Golf Sport

Hampshire were denied the South East Colts title for the first time since 2016 as Shanklin & Sandown’s Nat Riddett’s team suffered cruel luck at Dale Hill GC, in Sussex.

Stoneham’s Lawrence Cherry was forced to play through the pain barrier in the last singles match, after hitting a tree root on the 14th after tangling with timber off the tee. At that point, Hampshire had battled back from a 3-1 deficit after the morning foursomes to win the top 3 singles matches and tie the match up at 4-4.

Shanklin’s former Hampshire Junior Champion Conor Richards – who now lives on the mainland and is a member at Liphook – beat Jackson Garnett 3&2 to level the match.

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The final 4 matches on the course designed by Masters winner Ian Woosnam were evenly split, with the defending champions up in 2, and down in 2.

So Hampshire still had a chance to win their 8th South East Colts title, in their 11th final against Essex since the competition began in 1969.

Cherry had fought back from 2 down after 5 to lead by 1 with 5 to play against Cassidy Steffens. But he was in a lot of pain and saw one crucial putt lip out – and another on the 16th horseshoe out – to lose 3-out-of-4 holes.

The former Hampshire Boys captain had been sent out in the anchor role by county colts manager Riddett, in case it proved to be the decisive match.

Riddett had loaded his most experienced players at the top of the order – relying on Richards’ first-team experience – in a win-or-bust play, needing points early on to deny Essex any chance of repeating the 9-3 score line of 2 years ago.

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Essex went 6-4 up after Paulton’s Park’s George Caplehorn lost 3&1 in the 5th match to Essex’s Harry Wood, after Hockley’s Luke Hodgetts had been beaten 5&3 by Ryan Cox.

Hayling’s Max Clapp raised Hampshire hopes again by completing a 2&1 win over Callum Newton in the penultimate match to make it 6-5 to Essex. But needing to win the 17th, Cherry’s bad luck continued as his birdie attempt caught the edge of the hole on the low side, and the return also slipped by.

Steffens’ 2&1 win was a kick in the teeth for Riddett’s side, who had fared far better than when they had home advantage in 2019 and lost 9-3.

Hampshire led in 2 of the morning foursomes at the turn and were heading for a 3-1 lead at lunch after Stoneham’s 2-time Hampshire Junior Champion James Freeman and Bishopswood’s Tom Vaughan won the top match 3&2. But Hodgetts and Caplehorn were pegged back in match 2 by Cox and Bailee Curran, who won 3&1, and Richards and Cherry lost late holes to be beaten 3&2 by Steffens and Wood.

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The inexperienced duo of Clapp and Caffyn could not hold on to their slender lead, losing by one on the last to give Essex a crucial 2-point advantage going into the afternoon singles.

Essex went on to claim their 4th win in a row after the 2020 competition was lost to COVID, and were appearing in the final for a 7th-year running.

Nat, who works as a greenkeeper at Shanklin & Sandown, said:

“I could not have asked any more of the boys.

“They gave everything against a very strong Essex side, who had three players from their 2019 winning team.

“I really felt for Lawrence. Hopefully his wrist injury won’t prove to be too serious. He played through the pain barrier, not wanting to let his team-mates down.

“And he was so unlucky to lose with those putts lipping out. I put James Freeman, Tom Vaughan and Conor Richards out early to try and get some momentum – and it worked as we won the first three singles.

“All but one of the other matches were very close so 4-4 in the singles was the least we deserved.”

Report by Andrew Griffin

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7 months ago

why can’t we have a ISLE OF WIGHT team as Shanklin & Sandown are in the ISLE OF WIGHT and not hampshire


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