Essex Boys scratch seven-year itch
SOUTH EAST: Friday July 2nd
Essex reached the final of the EG Boys County Championship for the first time in seven years after a superb effort from their young squad at Kings Hill in Kent.
They squeezed through at the South East qualifier on countback – they finished tied with BB&O on six under – and will take their place in the nationals at Coxmoor in August alongside surprise finalists Leicestershire and Northumberland. The South West version takes place at Salisbury & South Wilts on July 8th.
Essex blooded 14-year-old Charlie Croker (Thorndon Park) and 15-year-old Henry Styles (Romford) and both performed heroically while Orsett’s William Horne delivered in fine style as he shot the joint lowest round of the day (66) in the afternoon.
U-18s team manager Paul Prebble (Chelmsford) said: “This is a big achievement for the county. To be honest it’s happened earlier than we planned for. It is incredibly difficult to win this when you consider who you’re up against and the likes of Charlie and Henry can keep playing for us for the next three or four years.
“All the squad did great and the boys are all massively looking forward to the final in August.”
Essex faced a nerve-wracking wait to see if they had made it but it did happen in the worst-possible circumstances. With the best five out of six scores counting in each round, the winner was decided on who had the best non-counting score in round two and unfortunately BB&O missed out because they had a player disqualified for signing for a wrong score in the afternoon.
Essex led at halfway by three from BBO and Hertfordshire and four from Kent. Their least good score in the morning was just 73 – Adam Crawley (Stock Brook) and Croker – while Chelmsford’s Lewis Wright had an eagle on the first during a three-under-par 69.
After lunch Horne stepped up a gear and finished his round with three successive birdies, holing out from 15 feet and then 10 feet to finish six under.
There was also a sensational first hole in one at the sixth for Thorndon Park’s Rory Bennet, which his manager was lucky enough to see.
“It was a perfect shot,” added Paul. “It took two bounces and rolled in like a putt.”
The best individual performance of the day came from Hertfordshire’s George Durkan (Bishops Stortford). He recorded a pair of 67s to finish 10 under par.