Young: Experience key to Hampshire success

Hampshire celebrate their success. Back row, left to right: Matt Wilcox, Colin Roope, Mark Burgess and Tom Robson. Front: Billy McKenzie, Martin Young, Ryan Harmer

HAMPSHIRE captain Martin Young emerged from a record-breaking eighth English county finals with tears in his eyes.

His team of veterans turned on the style as they finally claimed a second English County Championship.

The 47-year-old who has played in more finals than anyone since it became a round-robin contest in 1982, donned sunglasses for the last couple of shots to hide his emotions from his opponent as he tried to salvage a half from his match against Lewis Pearce.

After collecting the trophy at the spectacular Trevose Golf Club overlooking Cornwall’s North Atlantic coast, Young, who was the only-playing captain out of the four finalists, said: ‘This is so weird. I am so unbelievably happy.

‘I think having an experienced squad made a difference.

‘We did not have any current internationals like we have in the past.

‘We’d been there before and felt the pain of not winning – seven times in my case.

‘This was our third final in a row and this time we brought people who work as builders, roofers, accountants, recruitment consultants – and a golf club secretary.

‘We brought along a team of caddies to try something new, and they were brilliant supporting the players and keeping everything dry in all that rain.’

Young was proud of the way the team coped with difficult conditions.

He added: ‘We played the course in brilliant sunshine on Thursday and got to know the place.

‘Then when the weather came in on Saturday and Sunday and threw everything at us, we didn’t moan. We just got on and played.

‘We won with a team of real amateur golfers and I am very proud of everyone of them.’

The Hampshire squad included four players over the age of 35 with Hampshire’s last two British Amateur champions Harry Ellis and Scott Gregory unavailable to play.

Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson played his part with a 5&4 victory over Jake Walley in the penultimate game.

And it was left to club-mate Billy McKenzie to hang on for a half in his ding-dong with England international Jack Gaunt, who was the loser in this year’s English Amateur Championship.

McKenzie, who will spend at least one more year on the amateur circuit full-time, said: ‘I knew everyone behind me was well up, so it made it easier coming down the stretch.

‘But getting the winning half point was fantastic, especially against Jack who is a great player.

‘I had a good week, but it’s just great that I can play my part for the team.’

For Robson the success was very sweet after four previous attempts.

He said: ‘That was my fourth county finals in five years and this means everything.’

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