Wednesday 1st May 2019
Annual curtain raiser sees Hampshire defeat the Channel Islands at Brokenhurst Manor
Andrew Griffin reports on the annual match Channel Islands Match, played last weekend at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club.
HAMPSHIRE completed their pre-season preparations with a comprehensive victory over the Channel Islands at Brokenhurst Manor.
Last year’s beaten South East League Finalists start their 2019 campaign with a home match against Dorset on Sunday 12th May at the same New Forest venue.
Captain Colin Roope was keen to see how the county’s leading amateurs shaped up, having lost narrowly to the Hampshire PGA club professionals earlier in April, at Alresford.
Roope’s biggest headache after seeing off a combined Jersey and Guernsey team is over two injuries.
His troubled shoulder is set to force the Blackmoor member to leave himself on the sidelines.
But last year’s Hampshire Colts manager Tom Robson is also a doubt after pulling out due to illness at the weekend.
Roope, who pulled out of the Hampshire Hog two weeks ago revealed: “Tom called on Friday to say he was struggling.
“Most of the other guys in the first team squad who were not down to play at Brokenhurst Manor were playing in the West of England Amateur Championship, at Saunton. So I called up one of our top juniors Josh Mulcahy, from South Winchester, who could not wait to join up with the team, even if he was going to end up caddying.”
Roope, who took over the captaincy at the start of 2018, had been keen to get more of the county’s promising juniors involved at Hampshire matches.
He said: “It was great to have Josh involved – he could not wait, and I was able to put him out with Billy McKenzie, who would have played with Robbo – a great experience to play in foursomes with a Spanish Amateur Champion, who has already played a European Tour event.”
The biggest problem facing both teams was Storm Hannah which swept along the South Coast, with winds gusting up to 50mph and blowing through the New Forest at a steady 30-35mph during the first session on Saturday afternoon.
Colin said: “I was very pleased with my team’s attitude. I had said we had to treat the Channel Islands game as our first competitive game of the season – not as a friendly.
“The CI Team are used to playing on tough seaside links courses so the conditions pretty much negated our home advantage.”
Roope had gone to great lengths to help prepare for the Dorset game – the match was switched from Hayling, which was just as well as that would have been incredibly tough given the wind.
He said: “The conditions were the same for both teams but we quickly found ourselves down in two of the four foursomes, including Martin Young and Darren Wright in the top game.
“So I was pleased they came back strongly from three down in less than six holes. We didn’t make any excuses, we accepted things and battled hard to get back in the game and came out on top 3-1.
“The course is well-sheltered on many holes but if you got the ball above the treeline and on the more exposed holes, the wind was very tricky.”
The Stoneham pair of Alex Talbot and Ryan Moody picked up a point matched by Hayling’s Toby Burden and Sam Parsons, from Blackmoor.
Conditions eased for Sunday’s singles and McKenzie led Hampshire off beating the very capable Danny Blondel, from Royal Guernsey, winning 2&1.
Wright took care of La Moye’s Jason Stokes, who has been a regular in the Hampshire Colts and Men’s team over the last four years, by the same score.
Martin Young, who lead Hampshire to their first English County Championship in 21 years in 2017, had said he had never seen the wind as strong playing in more than three decades at his home club.
With Talbot racking up a 5&4 win over veteran Nigel Vaudin, Young was left facing former pro Jeremy Phillips and the Royal Jersey man held out to share the spoils on the 18th, giving Young the honour of the winning half.
Burden beat Tom Le Huray and Moody was too strong for Jersey’s Joe Hacker, leaving Parsons to beat Jersey’s Matthew Parkman, who was in the Hampshire Boys team some 16 years ago.
Roope had words of encouragement of young Mulcahy after his first-team debut, even though he ended up losing both his games.
Colin is confident the experience will serve Hampshire well in years to come, saying: “The likes of Martin, myself, Mark Burgess and Matt Wilcox, who are all in our 30s and 40s, are not going to be around forever.
“The biggest problem blooding juniors is not whether they are good enough, but making sure they don’t get overawed by the occasion. County golf, especially foursomes is tough.
“Everyone feels the pressure so the fact Josh has been to some first team matches since I took over and helped caddie and then got a chance to play is fantastic.
“He has listened to the players’ conversations and even been able to help them caddying in the singles, so when it is their turn, it is not all new.”