1ST TEAM COME UP AGONISINGLY SHORT AT SOUTH EAST MENS QUALIFIER
HERTS COUNTY 1ST TEAM AT SHERINGHAM, NORFOLK FOR THE EG SEG MENS QUALIFIER, FROM L TO R, DANNY DANIELS, ALEX COLLMAN, JAMES SURRIDGE, TONY WILKINS, BEN HARMAN AND LUKE COLGATE.
The County 1st Team almost pulled off a remarkable victory last weekend (Sat 8 July) at Sheringham GC in Norfolk for the England Golf South East Group Men's Qualifier, better known as the '6 Man Team event'.
The 11 South East counties each year select their 6 best players for the right to represent the group at the England Golf County Championship Final, who then battle it out with the 3 other regional winners over the course of 3 days to determine the Champion County for the year. Herts have only won the national event once in our history, in 1986 at John O'Gaunt in Beds and havent won the qualifier since 1993.
The Herts team consisted of 5 of the 2017 1st Team squad, Captain Alex Collman, Vice Captain and recent County Champion Tony Wilkins, Luke Colgate, Ben Harman and James Surridge, with the team completed by the addition of England Boy International Danny Daniels, fresh off his excellent performances in both the County Championship and the Irish Boys Championship, where he finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The team went into the tournament in high spirits due to some respectable results in this seasons South East League matches, however recent 9th and 10th place finishes in this event in the past two years meant that Herts did not go into the event as one of the favourites.
The Sheringham course is located on the North Norfolk coast and is categorised as 'clifftop', much like a links course but certainly not a 'pure links'. The course is extremely picturesque, situated right on the cliffs and provided an excellent test of golf for the competitors, albeit with little or no wind for the duration of the event. The team enjoyed the course during the practice rounds and felt it was a venue on which they could do well. Their instincts would prove to be correct.
After the am round Herts were in 3rd position, behind leaders Hampshire and 2nd place Sussex. Herts had a a score of 430 (+10) made up by James Surridge in his debut season of 1st team golf, returning a stunning round of 66 (-4), while Danny Daniels and Ben Harman posted scores of 70 (level), Tony Wilkins and Luke Colgate were both 74 (+4), while Captain Alex Collman returned 76 (+6). Hampshire had a very consistent score of 420 (level) with 4 rounds of 70 (level), 1 round of 69 (-1) and 1 round of 71 (+1)!! Sussex were sandwiched inbetween on a score of 422 (+2). Surridge would be co-leader in the individual event after 18 holes on -4 with David Wicks of Sussex. This was a great start and a huge improvement in performance over the last couple of years. However more was to come in the afternoon.
The pm round saw the Herts team exceed all expectations and return a best cumulative 18 hole score of the day of 416 (-4). Star of the afternoon has to be Ben Harman who posted a score of 65 (-5), helped by a cool birdie-birdie finish, for a new course record from the Black Tees at the Sheringham course. Surridge would add an afternoon 68 (-2) to his 66 from the morning for a hugely impressive 134 (-6) for the day. This would prove to be enough to claim the Benka Trophy for the best individual score. The ever reliable Tony Wilkins scored an afternoon 69 (-1), Luke Colgate posted a 71 (+1), while young Danny Daniels battled round, despite scoring an ugly 8 on the signature par 4 5th hole, for a 73 (+3).
The afternoon score of 416 would be added to the morning 430 for a total score of 846 (+6), an excellent score for the day and one that would win the event in many years. However Hampshire did just enough in the afternoon and ended up with a total score of 844 (+4) for the day to pip Herts to the title by 2 shots. Hampshire won the event for the 7th time in 11 years and for the 3rd year in a row. They now go on to represent the South East Group at the final, played this year at Trevose in Cornwall in October.
Despite the disappointment of so narrowly missing out on victory a great deal of positives to made out of the weekend. Congratulations to James Surridge, who due to this victory will recieve direct entry into the Brabazon Trophy next year played at Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire and to the new Sheringham course record holder Ben Harman.
The last scheduled 1st team fixture of the year will be away to BB&O at the aformentioned Frilford Heath next month.
JAMES SURRIDGE WITH THE BENKA TROPHY FOR THE BEST INDIVIDUAL SCORE ON THE DAY