High-flying trio called up for Norfolk's RAF clash

Lyndsey HewisonThree promising young golfers played their way in to the Norfolk men's team for the first fixture of the season with sparkling performances at a county trial.Lyndsey Hewison

Three promising young golfers played their way in to the Norfolk men's team for the first fixture of the season with sparkling performances at a county trial.

Aaron Bullock (Caldecott Hall), Shaun Larkins (Royal Norwich) and Kris Coop (Royal Cromer) all impressed in the scratch medal at Weston Park and claimed three reserved spaces for Sunday's match against the RAF.

The season-opener, at Swaffham, is traditionally an intensely competitive 'friendly'.

New county captain Jon Baker-Odlin deliberately left three places open when making his team selection.

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'I saved them for the best three performers at Weston Park who were not already in the team,' he said. 'It gave them an opportunity to perform and we've got three new faces.

'I want to pick guys on merit - if they perform well they will be in.'

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Bullock took his place with a two-under 70, Larkins with level par 72 and Coop with 75.

The top scorer on the day was Luke Johnson of King's Lynn, who followed up his good form in the South of England youths' championship with a three-under 69. He was already in the team, having made a welcome return to the county after a spell when he was based at Woburn.

The full team - which has an emphasis on young and emerging players - is: Matt Alden (Barnham Broom), Matt Bacon (Costessey Park), Jon Baker-Odlin (Royal Norwich), Charlie Bright (Royal Cromer), Aaron Bullock (Caldecott Hall), Tom Clements (Royal Norwich), Kristian Coop (Royal Cromer), Ian Hardy (King's Lynn), Luke Johnson (King's Lynn), Shaun Larkins (Royal Norwich), Dan Russell (Ryston Park).

If they succeed in winning the match they will meet Baker-Odlin's first goal for the season. His others, which he describes as clear and realistic, are:

t A top three place in the Eastern Counties Foursomes at Seacroft.

t Four wins in Anglian League matches.

t A top five place in the regional qualifier for the English counties' championship, accomplished by a six man team with an aggregate handicap of plus-six or better.

'My ambition is to produce a winning team,' Baker-Odlin has told players. 'The match against the RAF is a very good opportunity for newly-selected players to perform and get noticed and for the current first team players to continue to prove themselves and shine. The team needs to encourage each other and foster a winning mentality taking a positive result into all our matches this season.'

Meanwhile, the weekend also brings another trial for county second team contenders. This time the action takes place at Royal Norwich and successful players from the two events will be rewarded with a place in the line-up for the Clymer Bowl. This invitational warm-up event takes place next month at Caldecott Hall and also offers an opportunity to impress.

Second team captain Nick Paling has identified the nucleus of his team as Alan Henry (Dunston Hall), Paul Reade (King's Lynn) and Steve Tidy (Costessey Park). He also plans to include Sheringham's Lewis Gregory who will be playing in next week's independent schools' Home Internationals, where his school, Loretto, will represent Scotland.

Other places are up for grabs.

'I'm a competitive man and I want to win,' said Paling. 'I'm not here just to run a team for a laugh.'

He has decided to be a non-playing captain and has enlisted the support of a new vice-captain, Steve Tidy, in his efforts to find and nurture emerging talent.

Tidy was the second team's top scorer last season and, says Paling: 'He's the ideal man. If you cut him open you'd find Norfolk county golf written through him.'

Paling is also being supported by top Norfolk professional Neil Lythgoe (Royal Norwich). He will be at this weekend's trial, offering pre-play tuition and advice, and will also accompany the team for their first two Anglian League matches.

'Neil is the best pro in Norfolk and he'll be with us on the practice ground and also watching on the course to see how the players compete out there,' he said.

t Have you got a golf story to tell? You can contact Lyndsey Hewison on 01603 507416 or by email at lyndsey.hewison@ntlworld.com.

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