Lancashire and Surrey will lock horns for the third successive year when the English Boys County Championship reaches its climax with the finals at Royal North Devon on 1st – 3rd September.
The north v south battle has gone both ways over the past two years with Surrey the current champions following their victory at Royal Cromer last year. But the other two regional winners involved, Cornwall and Warwickshire, will be eager to break the Lancashire/Surrey monopoly.
Lancashire, who won the title at Pannal two years ago, saw Surrey take it from them in a dramatic three days in East Anglia a year ago. The competition is sure to be as keen this time but both teams will be fielding changed line-ups.
The northern champions parade only one of last years side in Jack Brooks, the English Under 14 Champion in 2003 and last years Lancashire Boy Champion. But they are without two key players in Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Andrews. Fleetwood is representing GB&I in the Jacques Leglise Trophy then making his full England debut in the Home Internationals, while Andrews is away at college in the United States.
Alternatively, Surrey will be strong with Carris Trophy winner Stiggy Hodgson and fellow boy cap Gary King, the countys junior champion and Hampshire Hog winner, in their team. Both are competing in the Jacques Leglise but will fly to Devon for the Boys Finals. The south east champions also have England under 16 squad member Matthew Chapman, Jake Shepherd, another boy cap, and under 16 international Tom Berry in what is an accomplished squad. Hodgson, King and Shepherd were in last years victorious team.
Cornwall, back in the finals after a gap of four years, parade England under 16 cap Billy Downing, the Cornwall Junior Champion, and Conor Wilson, the Cornwall Close Champion. They also have Tom Fox, last years Cornish Junior Order of Merit winner and current leader this year, but they will miss Ben Enoch, who is representing Wales in the Home Internationals.
Warwickshire, the Midland champions, last made the finals in 2005. This time they could be the dark horses with the likes of Jamie Carney, their Under 16 Champion, who finished runner-up in the McGregor Trophy, and Tom Ibbertson, their boys champion. They can also call on Will Bailey, the Warwickshire Boys Match play Champion, while Robert Bardsley has enjoyed several high finishes throughout this summer.
Lancashire have the best record in the competition with three victories, in 1990, 2001, and 2006; Surrey were champions in 2000 and last year; while Cornwalls only win came in 1996. Warwickshire have yet to win the title.
The County Finals are contested on a round robin basis, each match consisting of three foursomes and six singles, all over 18 holes. In the first round of matches on 1st September, Lancashire will play Surrey, while Cornwall meet Warwickshire.
Billy Downing (Truro)
Tom Fox (China Fleet)
Alex Glover (St Mellion)
Jonathan Hancock (Newquay)
Alan Lieske (Mullion)
Aaron Stephens (Newquay)
Conor Wilson (Perranporth)
James Bolton (Formby)
Jack Brooks (Pleasington)
Scott Fitzgerald (Southport & Ainsdale)
Paul Howard (Southport & Ainsdale)
Anthony Stirling (Formby)
Tom Stuart (St Annes Old Links)
James Wilson (Formby)
Tom Berry (Wentworth)
Matthew Chapman (Wentworth)
Stiggy Hodgson (Sunningdale)
Gary King (Tyrrells Wood)
Jake Shepherd (The Wisley)
Josh White (Chipstead)
Max Williams (Cuddington)
Will Bailey (Walmley)
Robert Bardsley (Moor Hall)
Jamie Carney (Shirley)
Adam Ferraro (Purley Chase)
Tom Ibbertson (Coventry Hearsall)
Michael McCormack (Moor Hall)
Phil Wastell (Forest of Arden)
More information, news and results can be found on the Championships section of the EGU website www.englishgolfunion.org.