Parsons answers SOS in style as Hampshire make winning South East League start in Dorset
Blackmoor’s Sam Parsons answered an SOS from county captain Neil Dawson and helped ensure Hampshire’s new captain got his debut South East League campaign off to a winning start against Dorset.
But with the new singles-only format forced on the South East Counties Golf Union because of the ongoing restrictions, the 4 ½ -3 ½ scoreline was much closer than Dawson was hoping for, writes ANDREW GRIFFIN.
And the North Hants GC member, who saw his first season as county captain wiped out by the pandemic, was delighted with the point delivered by Parsons, who beat Oscar Hein 2&1 in the middle of the order.
With no foursomes matches, which Hampshire normally excel in, Dawson knew a fast start was key.
But his plans to send out Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson as one of his key players were hit when the former Jacksonville State University player was injured during the build-up to the first South Division match at Broadstone.
Dawson watched as Hampshire raced into strong positions in the top four matches on the front nine with Parsons going three up after just five holes.
But he quickly realised he needed to turn his attention to the matches at the bottom of the order where Dorset were in good positions with nine to play.
Brokenhurst Manor’s former English Mid-Amateur Champion Martin Young put the first point on the board with a 4&3 win over Harry Mitchell in the second game out.
Hayling’s Toby Burden won the top match out moments later on the 17th, beating Adam Yates 2&1.
A shock 64 defeat for Rowlands Castle’s Colin Roope got Dorset back in the game as Ash Colloff, the only Broadstone member in the hosts’ side, made the most of home advantage -
even if the scoreline didn’t really reflect how the man, who handed over the captain’s reins to Dawson at the end of 2019, had played.
And Dawson feared the worst as Stoneham’s Courage Trophy winner Ryan Moody saw his four-hole advantage over Dorset captain Andy Rideout wiped out by the 17th.
Rideout then missed a five-foot birdie chance to win the game on the last. But his half looked crucial with the bottom half of the order all going the hosts’ way.
Parsons – a landscape gardener from Portsmouth - at least closed out his game on the 17th and, even though Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess was battling hard in the bottom match, the result was still in doubt after North Hants’ Matt Wilcox lost 4&3 to Sam Atkins.
That made it 3 ½ -2 ½ to Hampshire, leaving Stoneham’s former county champion Owen Grimes to become the hero of the hour.
‘Gritty Grimes” – as nicknamed by Dawson – reversed his two-hole deficit with a superb wedge into the heart of the 17th for a two-putt par that guaranteed a 2&1 win over Luke Hirst.
Burgess, who had been struggling on the greens, saw another putt bobble badly and lip out on the 17th to give Matthew Sandy a 2&1 win.
But Dawson’s reign was off to a winning start as victory stretched Hampshire’s record against Dorset to just one defeat in 15 years – and just three losses since 2000, with four draws in that sequence.
Hampshire will entertain Kent, at Hockley, in three weeks’ time in the second of their four South Division matches.