Lancashire and Wiltshire set for County Finals clash
Lancashire and Wiltshire, the last two champions, will renew their rivalry after winning their way through to the English men’s County Championship Finals at Beau Desert in Staffordshire on 28th – 30th September.
Wiltshire are the defending champions after their victory at Ganton last year, while Lancashire won at Hunstanton in 2010. The other finalists are Suffolk, representing the South East, and Midland champions Worcestershire.
Wiltshire will field a strong line-up including five of their title-winning side from last year in the Loughrey brothers, Ben and Josh, Jordan Smith, Ali James and Tom Burley. But Ben Stow is absent at college in the United States.
Ben Loughrey and Jordan Smith (image copyright Tom Ward), are England internationals while Smith was a semi-finalist in this year’s English Amateur Championship. Garry Slade is the county champion, Robbie Busher finished runner-up, while Tom Burley is the English Mid Amateur champion following his victory in the Logan Trophy at Saunton.
This will be Wiltshire’s fifth appearance in the finals in the past six years. They won the south west qualifier at Cumberwell Park by 25 strokes from Devon, while Ben Loughrey was the individual winner on 139, nine under par.
Lancashire, the north region winners, will be playing in their third successive finals and include three of their 2011 side from Ganton in John Carroll, Paul Howard and Mark Young.
Young is the current Lancashire county champion, who beat Jon Hurst, another member of the team, in a playoff that lasted 11 holes, but he lost on countback for the English County Champions Tournament over the weekend, while Carroll is last year’s county champion.
Boy international Paul Kinnear was not a member of the two previous final teams but will add strength to this year’s line-up which is bidding for its 11th county title.
Suffolk will be competing in their first English Men’s County Finals, having qualified at Crowborough Beacon in Sussex when the event was abandoned after the greens became waterlogged through persistent rain. The result was decided over 12 holes at which stage Suffolk were leading on 280, five ahead of Sussex, and were duly declared the winners.
Their team includes Patrick Spraggs, a past county and Suffolk Open champion, and Nathan Overton, last year’s county champion. Chris Vince is the Suffolk Match Play and Junior champion but the team is missing current county champion Sam Forgan, who is at college in America.
Worcestershire’s participation was also dramatic in that they finished a shot behind Lincolnshire in the qualifier at Belton Park but went forward when their rivals were disqualified, leaving Worcestershire winners by six from Warwickshire.
Their team includes Josh Carpenter, the county champion and runner-up in the Midland Closed Championship, and Henry James, the Welsh Boys champion and runner-up in this year’s British Boys Championship.
Worcestershire has won the title on three occasions, all in the 1930s, and their last appearance in the final was two years ago at Hunstanton. Three of this week’s side, Chris Healey, Richard Sadler and Steven Lane, played on that occasion.
The County Finals are played on a round robin basis over the three days. In the first round of matches, Lancashire play Suffolk and Wiltshire meet Worcestershire.
John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot)
Sean Doherty (Bury)
Paul Howard (Southport & Ainsdale)
Jon Hurst (Pleasington)
Paul Kinnear (Formby)
Steven McGlynn (Blackburn)
Mark Young (Longridge)
Jack Cardy (Hintlesham)
Josh Cottrell (Ipswich)
Nathan Overton (Woodbridge)
Chris Soanes (Rookery Park)
Patrick Spraggs (Stowmarket)
Chris Vince (Haverhill)
Ben Wallis (Rookery Park)
Tom Burley (Broome Manor)
Robbie Busher (Salisbury & South Wilts)
Ali James (Cumberwell Park)
Garry Slade (Bowood G&CC)
Jordan Smith (Bowood G&CC)
Ben Loughrey (Wrag Barn)
Josh Loughrey (Wrag Barn)
Joshua Carpenter (Cleobury Mortimer)
Chris Healey (Moseley)
Rudy Hercik (Gaudet Luce)
Henry James (Kidderminster)
Steven Lane (The Worcestershire)
Richard Sadler (Moseley)
Matthew Vigurs (Redditch)