Hampshire’s intensive preparation for their opening golf South East League match of the season paid handsome dividends as Colin Roope’s men recorded their biggest win against Dorset in more than 20 years.
Roope went to the unusual lengths of switching the venue for the pre-season friendly against the Channel Islands from Hayling to Brokenhurst Manor, where last year’s beaten South East League finalists kicked off their South Division campaign for 2019, writes Andrew Griffin.
And that attention to detail was rewarded as Hampshire raced out of the blocks to take the morning foursomes 3-1 and then won seven of the eight singles match, with Hayling’s Toby Burden – the last man out on the course in the anchor game – ensuring an unbeaten session by halving against Ferndown’s Harry Mitchell to make it 10 ½ to 1 ½ .
Brokenhurst Manor’s former county captain Martin Young teamed up with McKenzie’s Rowlands Castle team-mate Darren Wright, who crushed Luke Hirst and Matthew Sandy 7&6 in the first foursomes.
McKenzie helped Stoneham’s Ryan Moody win their game by two holes with only Burden and Blackmoor’s Sam Parsons’ defeat on the last to veteran Giles Legg and Mitchell preventing a whitewash after Shanklin’s Jordan Sundborg and Stoneham’s Owen Grimes won on the last.
But any hopes Dorset captain Tom Leech had of mounting a fight-back was dashed in the singles.
Sundborg, who won this year’s British Universities Order of Merit while at Stirling, and Grimes – the reigning Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Champion – raced into big leads by the turn, winning by six and seven holes respectively against Andrew Robson and Legg.
Parsons matched that fast start to rip the heart out of Dorset’s middle order, going on to beat Peter Corrick 6&5.
Appropriately it was Young’s 3&2 win over Thomas Kolberg in the third match out – on a course he knows every blade of grass on – that guaranteed the win.
McKenzie and Wright had the two toughest matches on paper against Luke Hirst and Rideout respectively at the top of the order.
Both games reached the 18th – McKenzie had to win the last two holes having trailed by one with four to play.
He found himself in the trees on the right on the 330-yard home hole and found the right trap from a difficult lie.
But Hirst found the sand from 30 yards short of the green, tempted by the front pin guarded by the wide bunker.
That enabled McKenzie to get up-and-down for his four while the Dorset player took five to hand Hampshire another point.
Wright was also down the right but his cute chip set up a birdie chance from some 12 feet – and he celebrated in front of his watching team-mates with a swaggering fist pump that summed up Hampshire’s superiority as the ball dropped into the cup.
Dorset captain Leech acknowledged his team had lost to one of the strongest teams in the country, let alone the South East.