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Kent’s win at the South Eastern Group qualifier at Farleigh in Surrey secures their place in the finals at Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club later this year

The Kent men’s team have won a place in England Golf’s National Finals after a terrific performance at the qualifying event.

Kent finished 11 shots clear of nearest challengers Hampshire to win the South Eastern Group qualifier at Farleigh in Surrey.

South Eastern Group and Kent Golf Union president Jim Pocknell with the winning Kent team at the South East Qualifier, at Farleigh Golf Club Picture: Andrew Griffin/AMG Pictures
South Eastern Group and Kent Golf Union president Jim Pocknell with the winning Kent team at the South East Qualifier, at Farleigh Golf Club Picture: Andrew Griffin/AMG Pictures

Battling away against strong winds and rain over 36 holes, the team won with +9, facing off against 10 other counties with just one qualifying spot on offer.

Their five best scores from six counted. The team was made up of Liam Burns (72, 72 level), Mason Essam (72, 73 +1), Oliver Lewis-Perkins (70, 73 -1), Ben Quinney (75, 77 +8), Tom Sherreard (73, 72 +1) and Connor Bell (86, 82 +24), who had stepped in for injured Dan Jones, missing with an injured wrist.

The Kent team are under the guidance of county captain Paul Cannons and team professional Benn Barham.

The pair ensure the golfers are given every chance to succeed.

Barham said: “We worked through the winter with development days for the team. It's an individual sport, but we have to play team matches. My ethos is we develop the individual to bring team success. If these lads play well individually, we end up having good results as a team.

“Some of them have got their home coaches but I'd certainly guide, mentor, advise and we talk about course strategy before every match and every tournament. If things aren't going quite to plan I can offer educated assistance. I know their games well and I can help them on the day as well.”

The team hail from across Kent and the six who took part in the qualifiers are chosen from a pool of 15.

Essam (Dartford) and Quinney (Rochester & Cobham) are England squad members, and were joined by Bell (Blackheath), Burns (Chislehurst), Lewis-Perkins (Mid-Kent), Sherreard (King’s Hill) and reserve Conor Byers (Langley Park) for the trip to Farleigh.

Three weeks earlier the group played the course in preparation for the qualifying event.

Barham said: “We made notes and got a good look at the course so they could mentally prepare themselves and get some familiarity with it.

“One of the toughest decisions is actually narrowing it down to six players because we've got such a strong squad.”

County champion Jones was forced to miss out after hurting his wrist the week before.

Barham said: “We picked a strong team, the lads played great and we prepped well.

“We did everything our time and budget allowed us to do to prepare for for the tournament but you’ve still got to play well on the day. I trusted them I believed in them. I felt like on paper we were immensely strong.

“We've got a great manager in Paul Cannons and we work well together.

“I want to make it an environment where we’re really good and competitive. We respect them as players and appreciate them giving up their time. We want to look after them and reward them for being the best amateur golfers in Kent.”

Kent last got through to the county finals in 2019 which was in Huddersfield and they won - the first time they had achieved success in the tournament in around 40 years.

“I've pushed and I treat them like tour professionals,” Barham said.

“I’m always on at them. I've got high standards. I played at a super high standard, albeit it doesn't like feel it now!

“I still coach Tour players now myself and I work with guys on the DP World Tour so I treat these guys as though they're that standard. I do my best to raise their games because I've got high standard.

“We set we set the bar high. We go into every match every tournament, expecting to win. we're not we're not there to make the numbers up.”

The final takes place at Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club on September 28-October 1.

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