CAPTAIN Pete Bicknell is relishing the prospect of returning ‘home’ with an exciting young Wiltshire side when the county contest South West Week in Devon.
Wiltshire, the national champion county in 2011 and 2012, head to Royal North Devon Golf Club in Westward Ho for seven days of competition starting on Saturday with a strong 13-man squad.
Among the main targets for Bicknell’s men will be to regain their place in the national finals – also at Royal North Devon in September – by winning the qualifying event on Tuesday.
Wiltshire will also contest the inter-county team matchplay crown against the hosts, Somerset, Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
The South West Amateur and youth individual prizes – won last year by Bowood’s Walker Cup star Jordan Smith – will also be up for grabs. Smith, who has earned a guest spot at the Lyoness Open European Tour professional event in Austria this week, is missing from Bicknell’s line-up this time.
But England U18 champion Ben Amor (Marlborough) and Ben Stow, who qualified for last year’s Open Championship, are among those available.
High Post player Bicknell, who took over the county captaincy from Marlborough’s Dave Bauer and played for Devon as a junior, said: “We’ve had some good early results in the Channel League and that should give us a bit of confidence.
“We’ve lost a few guys, but we still have a really good team, a mixture of some who have played in this before and some who are new to it.”
Builder Bicknell, 50, said: “It’s a long week, but we have players who are improving all the time.
“That (the national qualifier) is the main thing but hopefully we can do well in the matchplay event to boost our confidence for Tuesday.’’
Wiltshire: Peter Bicknell (High Post, captain), Paul Green (Marlborough, vice captain), Ben Amor (Marlborough), Ali James (Cumberwell), Garry Slade (Bowood), Yoshio Takeuchi (Broome Manor), Jack Charman (North Wilts), Henry Pallas (Hamptworth), Corey Sheppard (High Post), Simon Futcher (Marlborough), Ben Stow (Cumberwell), Luke Gorman (Bowood), Tom Law (Broome Manor).
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