Hampshire Golf Limited

Brilliant Boys In Blue give Burden his first win as Captain in 10-2 domination against Sussex

Toby Burden lining up a putt on the way to victory

TOBY Burden got off to a dream start as Hampshire’s new captain holing the winning putt to make it two wins out of two for the South East League champions.

His par putt of around three feet on the 17th was conceded by wily Sussex veteran Steve Watts, who missed a chance to extend the match coming down the slope to take the game down the 18th, after Burden had putted up the slope from 30 feet.

The 2&1 win gave Hampshire the winning seventh point, as they sent their neighbours packing with a 10-2 victory at Brokenhurst Manor, on Sunday.

Having beaten Kent 7-5 on their travels last month, Hampshire sit top of the South Division with just a short trip up the A3 to negotiate in August.

Surrey have yet to kick-off their campaign but victory for Hampshire would not only leave them with a 100 per cent record, it would also see them in the South East League Final for a second year in a row.

A draw against Surrey might be enough to book Hampshire’s return to October’s final. Their win over Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire eight months ago saw Lawrence Cherry’s team claim the Daily Telegraph Salver for the first time in 11 years.

Burden – the first player from Hayling to hold the county captain’s badge after the post was created back in 1951 – had warned his squad he was prepared to carry on playing in the eight-man league team, despite being spoilt for choice.

Even without top US college prospect Charlie Forster, who came within a whisker of reaching the quarter-finals of last week’s Amateur Championship at Ballyliffin, in Ireland, Hampshire were able to field a team without the likes of former mini-pro tour player Darren Walkley, and North Hants’ Rob Wheeler, who made his debut in the six-man English County Finals qualifier, and won the Army GC Open last weekend.

Burden was guarding against complacency though when he spoke to his players alongside county coach Kev Flynn, by the 18th green at Brokenhurst.

Toby said: “We are potentially halfway through the league season with two wins – and possibly two more games to play. That was a statement winning like that. It was a great performance.”

Flynn, who has worked hard on developing a winning culture and mentality since joining Hampshire’s backroom team at the start of last season, emphasised that maintaining the good form shown by the players in recent weeks was throwing down a challenge to those players not picked for the New Forest game, or who were unavailable, like Walkley and Forster.

Toby said: “I said before the game that I was of the opinion in the past that it was better to have a non-playing captain.

“But while I am in good form and winning points for the team, it sends a message out to everyone who wants to be playing for Hampshire that they have to make it impossible for me to leave them out by their results in the competitions that matter.”

Hampshire’s strength over the last two decades has been based on their foursomes pairings, and while Burden was able to put veterans Martin Young, playing on his home course, together with regular partner, Ryan Henley, from Stoneham, he had to pair newly-crowned county champion Sam Parsons with returning regular Tom Robson after a season out ot the team.

Brokenhurst’s classic Harry Colt heathland design was playing fast and firm and Hampshire adapted to the quick greens better than the visitors as they marched into a 3-1 lead at lunch.

All four pairings were quick out of the block, with Liphook’s George Saunders and Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld three-up at the turn, matched by Burden, playing with Jersey’s 2021 county champion Jo Hacker.

Robson and Parsons were two-up after eight, while in the bottom match Henley and Young roared to a five-hole lead after just nine holes against the hapless Nick Russell and Nick Ward who gave away for of the holes with bogey or worse.

Watts and Tim Hollis made a brave fight with back-to-back birdies around the turn to get back to all-square and then made three-in-a-row to close out a 3&2 win with the par-five 16th halved in birdies.

Hampshire were already 2-0 up after Burden and Hacker won the 16th with a five to close out a 4&2 victory over Sussex’s Josh Hayes and Jon Exton-Taylor.

Saunders and Buenfeld, who has plenty of experience of New Forest golf as a Bramshaw member, won by the same margin against Joe Sykes and Harry Malin, the visitors’ No. 1 pairing, who traded three birdies with five bogeys to the host pairing’s three birdies and solitary dropped shot.

If Burden was able to enjoy his lunch with that 3-1 lead, there was little to cause him indigestion as Challenge League captain Harrison Pake continued as his eyes and ears on the course.

There was little to report as the top half of the scoreboard quickly went blue. La Moye’s Hacker who missed the Kent win when his flight from Jersey was cancelled several times the day before, was three-up after seven against Malin, while Saunders who made his league debut as a 16-year-old in 2016, was three-up after just four, playing Josh Hayes.

Buenfeld was three-up after six against Sykes, but the bottom four matches were a lot closer, meaning the match was still far from over.

But Hampshire put their foot down from the turn, and attacked Brokenhurst’s shorter par-fours to ramp up the pressure as the visitors found it hard to hold the fast putting surfaces with their approaches.

Robson playing in an uncustomary anchor role was two-up by the 12th against Ward, while Parsons – who was a squad member from the end of 2018 until 2022 – got his nose in front after the ninth and never looked back in his match with Russell.

Once Saunders and Hacker had rounded off wins – by 4&3 and and 3&2 to sandwich Buenfeld’s 2&1 win – the stage was set for Burden to seal the win.

Surprisingly, Young, who must have played nearer 10 county matches on his home course in his 25-year league career, was beaten 3&2 by Hollis, who made it two wins out of two.

A 20-foot putt for par on the short 12th after missing the green on the right shaved the edge of the hole, to double Hollis’ lead, having trailed from the fifth.

A bogey at the 14th left the seven-time Mike Smith Memorial winner at Brokenhurst three-down with three to play, and a five at the next sealed his fate.

Henley, who had also got to the turn with a two-hole advantage thanks to birdies at the second and seventh, was three-up with seven to play, but six fours in a row from the pair, took the match to the 18th before this year’s beaten county finalist made it 8-2.

Parsons was one-up going down the last but Russell missed the green from a poor lie in the right rough leaving Parsons with a simple four-footer for par to double his winning margin.

Robson had enjoyed his return to the county side, even if he found himself out at the back of the field instead of his customary role leading the singles off.


He was two-up by the turn, but lost the long par-three 10th only to get it back at the short 12th when Ward missed the green and failed to get up-and-down.

A 25-footer for birdie on the 14th put the icing on the cake for Burden’s men as Tom was left with two putts for par on the 16th for his 3&2 win.

A resounding victory to take in to our final league match of the season away against Surrey at Hindhead GC.

Final Scores from the match can be viewed HERE

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