Hampshire captain Neil Dawson hopes the weather will relent this weekend and allow him to send out his team for their first scheduled friendly since he was appointed.
The North Hants GC member saw the 50th anniversary match against Alresford wiped out by Storm Dennis last month, before more strong winds two weeks ago resulted in the cancellation of the annual Past, Present & Future fixture played at Hayling every February.
Hampshire Golf bosses have rearranged the latter for this weekend, but Dawson is unable to field the near full strength team he had pencilled in to play the Hampshire U18 team and the Past squad drawn mostly from the Seniors ranks.
But Sunday’s match gives the man, who led Hampshire Colts to the South East League title in 2015 and 2016, a chance to weigh up some of the juniors who could be knocking on his door for selection come the summer.
‘The first-team squad have managed to fit in two weekend practice days at Brokenhurst and Liphook since the end of January,’ Dawson said..
‘But obviously it will be great to get a few of the guys out there with a pencil and scorecard in their hand with something on the line – even though only five of my squad are available.
‘The U16 and U18s under Wayne Matthews and Rob Mulchay have produced a strong set of juniors with eight now in the England South Regional Squad.
‘I have said that I won’t be afraid to pick the younger players at the right time, if their results deserve it.
‘So seeing them playing against players – who are not only a very good county standard, but also nationally – will be good for them, and me.’
Dawson has drafted in former England A squad member Mark Thistleton, a member at Hayling, and Corhampton’s Sam Day. Both played in the English County Finals for Hampshire.
Among the juniors playing are Hayling’s Max Clapp and James Hellyer, who helped the club reach the finals of the Royal Greenjackets two years ago, the county’s top inter-ciub junior knockout competition.
Stoneham’s Joe Buenfeld – the winner of the 2019 European Junior Open, a competition won by Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Nick Dougherty – returns to action in the UK, having helped his first club Bramshaw reach the finals of the Home Nations Team Championship in the Algarve for the second time in three years.
Both events were televised by Sky TV and the Romsey teenager will face reigning Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Champion Toby Burden on his home course.
The team will also feature Liphook’s South of England Boys Open winner Sam West, who won the English Schoolboys Championship two years ago.
News from The News, Portsmouth