Hamplshire start of the season with a victory

Hampshire squad v Dorset. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Hampshire squad v Dorset. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Scott Gregory. Picture: PA Images

Gregory starting to earmark his schedule for next season

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MARTIN YOUNG toasted Hampshire’s fine start to the season but revealed: I’d rather have been playing.

The county captain was forced to watch the majority of his team’s South East League’s opening match of the campaign against Dorset from the sidelines due to family commitments.

Despite being without their skipper, Hampshire showed their class to record an 8.5/3.5 win.

The Brockenhurst Manor ace said: ‘I definitely prefer to be playing as captain than watching.

‘It was horrible – I did not enjoy it at all.

‘But it was a good performance and, overall, we have a stronger league squad this year than last.

‘George Saunders and Ryan Harmer, who came into the six-man squad for the English County Finals, have undoubtedly added to the team’s strength.

‘We also have last year’s Hampshire Order of Merit Winner Colin Roope available and Toby Burden has committed playing more for the county this year.’

Despite being without British Amateur Champion Scott Gregory and US collegiate golfers Harry Ellis, Billy McKenzie and Jamie Mist, Hampshire were always in full control and raced into a 3-1 lead in the foursomes.

Blackmoor trio Roope, Mark Burgess and Ben Lobacz all produced a 100-per-cent return and earned five points between them on the day.

Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson helped Meon Valley’s George Saunders see off the threat of 1994 British Amateur Champion Lee James and Matt Sandy.

The pair won three holes in a row on the back nine to go five up before shaking hands with a 4/3 win.

It was left to Burgess and Lobacz to take advantage with a third victory in the bottom foursomes.

They got the better of 2002 English Amateur finalist Giles Legg and Callum Ward 2/1.

Robson went out first in the singles and the Hampshire Colts captain showed why he has no fear of reputations by putting James to the sword 3/1.

Saunders held a slender advantage for the majority of his match with Andy Rideout before losing the par-3 17th to go one down.

He then missed a tricky putt to salvage a half on the last, which would have secured the overall victory.

Roope had shown all his experience to force Callum Ward into a series of mistakes, which left him five up by the 14th to guarantee a Hampshire draw.

Ryan Harmer lost the 18th, but his half with Sandy nudged the hosts over the winning line.

With Burgess beating Legg 3/2, Lobacz wrapped things up with a one-hole win over Luke Hirst.

Hampshire Colts began their defence of their South East League junior crown with a 9.5/2.5 win over Middlesex at Sherfield Oaks.