BOYS U18 TEAM SEG LEAGUE WINNERS 2018, FROM L TO R, JACK BIGHAM, GEORGE DURKAN, ABHISHEK PANKHANIA, CAPTAIN GREG HURLEY, REIS SUART, MATTHEW GAUNTLETT, MAX HOPKINS & GEORGE WRIGHT
REPORT FROM BOYS U18 MANAGER CHRIS JAMES;
Ipswich hosted this year’s final of the England Golf - South Eastern Group Boys U18 League Final over the challenging Purdis Heath, James Braid inspired course on a miserable wet Sunday morning (23rd September). Heavy rain descended from the start of the match with it only easing over the last hour of play. However the heathland course held up well and the excellent greens continued to run smooth and quick for the finalists of the three regional zones, Kent from the Southern, Bedfordshire from the Northern and Hertfordshire from the Central Zone.
Despite the inclement weather some superb golf was played and the boys had strongly contested games with the overall result in the balance until the end.
Boys Captain, Greg Hurley, set the standard beating Bedfordshire by 2 holes but just losing out to the experienced Jenson Hull of Kent, when he lost the 17th hole to go 1-Down and could only halve the 18th.
England International, Max Hopkins then secured maximum points with a similar margin of victory over Connor Bell of Kent (whose older brother, Jonathan, was caddying for Tom Lewis winning the Portugal Masters) by virtue of his opponent failing to get up and down on the 18th, having already beaten Bedfordshire 3 & 2.
One of the youngest team members, Jack Bigham, got off to an explosive start with birdies on the first two holes but was hauled back and came to the last hole all very tight. His persistence took the point off Kent by virtue again of his opponent’s failure to get up and down with a misjudged pitch shot which came up short. Jack was already on the green with his long approach and rolled his birdie putt up stone dead. He was 1-Up against Bedfordshire and his steady par ensured that’s how it stayed.
Moor Park’s, Abhishek Pankhania, played solidly and putted well in securing a convincing 5&4 win over Kent and a 2&1 win over Bedfordshire. Behind him Matthew Gauntlett showed great consistency from tee to green picking up holes as his opponents made mistakes under the pressure. The youngest team member , Reis Suart, making his debut at U18 level, found the going tough but fought hard to keep his matches going but eventually went down to both opponents but will have gained immense experience.
The results after 6 games showed that a win had already been secured against Bedfordshire, but the result against Kent was still in the balance with Hertfordshire having a 4-2 advantage. It was down to the last two games on the course to secure outright victory.
George Durkan battled hard against both opponent’s but came up the 16th fairway dormie two-down to both, and shook hands on the green. It was therefore left to anchor man, George Wright, who had been 2 and 1 up at the turn. He came up the 16th fairway dormie 3 up and won both games on the green by holing a downhill putt for his par.
This was a terrific performance from a young team with 6 players under 16 years of age and a fitting finale for team captain Greg Hurley playing his final game as a county junior. This was a great confidence booster for the county boys who now travel with 5 of the team playing in the U16 SEG League Regional Final this coming Sunday (30th September) at The Dyke Golf Club, Hove against Suffolk and Hampshire.
FROM L TO R, BOYS MANAGER CHRIS JAMES, JACK BIGHAM, GEORGE DURKAN, ABHISHEK PANKHANIA, GREG HURLEY, REIS SUART, MATTHEW GAUNTLETT, MAX HOPKINS, GEORGE WRIGHT AND COUNTY COACHING CO-ORDINATOR MARK DAY.