Yorkshire golf: New-look White Rose line-up as champions continue defence of Northern Counties title

Yorkshire captain Darryl Berry (Picture: Chris Stratford).
Yorkshire captain Darryl Berry (Picture: Chris Stratford).

FIVE players will make their Northern Counties bow as champions Yorkshire head to face Cheshire in the second match of the season on Saturday.

Lindrick's Bailey Gill, Moortown's David Houlding, Malton & Norton's David Hague, Fulford's Charlie Thornton and Rotherham's Charlie Daughtrey all step into captain Darryl Berry's side.

The lure of the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy has seen Berry lose the services of Jamie Bower (Meltham), Will Whiteoak (Shipley), Steve Robins (Hull), Dan Brown (Masham) and Jonathan Thomson (Rotherham) while Jamie Lampkin (Ilkley) has to work.

New Fulford amateur course record holder Ben Brewster (Wheatley) and Cookridge Hall's Tom Broxup, holder of all four Leeds Union major titles, were unavailable due to personal commitments.

But Berry believes the hunger and enthusiasm of the newcomers will meld with the experience of the established players at his disposal to form a strong force at Sandiway.

"We are going to go there with fresh guys who I believe will have the hunger to try to prove that they deserve their spots," said Berry, who has won the EGU Northern Counties title both as a player and as the side's captain.

"If they do that then the others will have to try to get their way back in. Obviously players like (England internationals) Jamie Bower and Will Whiteoak, you will look at giving them a spot whenever possible. But if you have people that are not able to commit themselves to the team fully then they are going to have to play their way back in.

"If the new guys come in and win it will be very hard for me to drop them. Let's hope we do get some wins from these new guys; I'm confident they'll all do well."

Yorkshire are looking to make it two wins from two after overhauling a foursomes session deficit to edge Cumbria 10-8 last month at Seascale.

Houlding, grandson of former Moortown professional Bryon Hutchinson, has been playing collegiate golf in America for a university in Missouri.

Gill won the Welsh Youths Open title only last Sunday, Hague is the holder of the prestigious Mackenzie Salver, Thornton missed out on Thompson Trophy success by just a shot last month, and Daughtrey impressed recently as a member of England Under-16s' side in Spain.

"David Hague is overdue a place now," added Berry. "We have tried a couple of times to get him in and finally he is in the team. He is going to be a good asset to have the way he is playing at the minute.

"Craig Smith is back in after a long drought. He had a bit of a tricky season last year, made a few swing changes, and he is now back playing well, obviously, winning the York Rose Bowl.

"Charlie Daughtrey and Charlie Thornton are two young kids who are doing well, and of course Bailey Gill won the Welsh Youth and Kealan Lowe finished high there (tied third).

"Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall) was the only player from Yorkshire to make the cut at the Scottish men's open stroke play, so it is still a very strong team.

"We still have the likes of Martin Brown (Pike Hills), Luke Robinson (Hornsea), Jamie Harrison (Rotherham) - their experience is going to be vital.

"Nick Poppleton (Wath) will hopefully be taking the lead with Charlie Daughtrey in the foursomes, and David Hague and Charlie Thornton will play together in the morning as they are quite good friends.

"It is good when we have that much depth although it has been tricky getting together a team and Anthony Abraham (Yorkshire selector) has done wonders getting lads. It is a new looking team and they'll be facing a Cheshire side who haven't lost any players to the St Andrews Links Trophy. But I'm confident we have a strong side capable of winning."

Sandiway is a course Berry knows well having won the individual award when leading Yorkshire to success in an EGU qualifier for the six-man team championship.

"I have good memories from the qualifier there - a lot of years ago. I remember being five under through five holes," he recalled. "It is going to be nice to go back there."

He and Sandburn Hall coach Steve Robinson headed to Sandiway on Friday morning to plot some course management ahead of the players' arrival and practice round.

Berry concluded: "It's a perfect opportunity for the new lads to go out there and show us what they can do. They have been picked for a reason - because they are shooting good scores and have potential.

"It could have been that Anthony and I looked back at some experienced players from the past and called them up, but there is no future in that.

"I am sure there are guys who would love to play again and I am sure they can still play - but we haven't got a future there.

"I believe if you bring the young 'uns in quick enough it will only take a year or two and suddenly they will be in the team fully, and they will be right up at the top end of it as well.

"The newcomers are all established players, have all been doing stuff in their own rights in their own ranks. It is not like they are just there because we need players; they are there because they have got the ability as well."

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