Hampshire captain Martin Young will lead his county from the front when he plays in his 17th successive South East Qualifier at Reading’s Calcot Park on Saturday.
The Brokenhurst Manor is desperate to reverse Hampshire’s uncharacteristic slump in their Daily Telegraph South East League form, by retaining their crown as the south east champions by winning the ‘six-man’ qualifier for the sixth time in 10 years.
Young said: ‘I made my debut in the six-man at West Herts in 2000 playing in the three-ball behind Surrey’s Paul Casey, and have not missed a single one since.
‘To be picked every year by seven different captains is a record I am very proud of but in all honesty, when I took the job on at the end of last year three things were very fixed in my mind.
‘I wanted to carry on as a playing captain, certainly in the league matches as a way of throwing down a challenge to the younger players to say: “If you want to play for Hampshire you have got to be playing at least as good if not better than me.”
‘When I knew the Logan Trophy was going to be played at Brokenhurst and that it clashed with our Telegraph game against Sussex, I could not pass up the chance to win another English Mid Amateur title on my own course.
‘And thirdly, I intended to be able to sit out the six-man and be a captain for the rest of the team, helping them out on the course, on what can be a very, very tough and stressful day.
‘But as soon as I started to play well after an indifferent start to the season – winning the county championship and then the Welsh Mid-Amateur at Machynys Peninsula Golf Club a week later – I knew I had to put myself back in the frame.’
Young has already had to amend his plans on team selection twice in the past fortnight after Hayilng’s Darren Walkley had to to pull out because of work commitments, and Scott Gregory was selected by England to play in this week’s European Amateur Team Championship, which got under way in Chantilly, France yesterday.
With Meon Valley’s former English Amateur Champion Harry Ellis returning to winning ways in the last five weeks after victory in the Lagonda Trophy, at Gog Magog, and Rowlands Castle’s Billy McKenzie enjoying another outstanding season playing for William Woods University in the States, Young is not short of big names that some of his rivals would love to have on their teamsheets.
With Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson leading Hampshire Colts to a third successive South East Group final by winning their south east triangular match two weeks ago, Young has plenty of players pushing to make his squad of seven.
That includes Hayling’s Jamie Mist and Meon Valley’s England under-16 international George Saunders as he prepares to finalise his squad in the next 24 hours.