What a week it has been for Sheffield golfer Joe Dean.
The Lindrick and Hillsborough GC member won the English Amateur Trophy - then yesterday captained Yorkshire in a Northern Counties event on the Isle of Man.
Dean beat Sundridge Park’s Alfie Plant 9&7 in the final at Alwoodley GC.
In fact the 21-year-old from Killamarsh almost sealed the title with a hole in one, which would have given him the unlikely honour of starting the tournament with an eagle and finishing it on an eagle!
His seven-iron shot to the par three 11th landed just after the flag, spun back and dropped into the hole only to bounce out and settle a couple of inches from the hole.
Kent player Plant, needing to ace the hole to prolong the match, spun his tee shot back off the green and - when he approached and saw Dean’s ball no more than six inches from the cup - conceded the hole and championship.
The triumph made sure the trophy stayed in Yorkshire as Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh won it last year.
And it meant his name went on the trophy alongside golfing legends Nick Faldo, Mark James, Paul Casey and Dean’s fellow Sheffielder Danny Willett, recent winner of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland when he beat yet another Sheffield star Matt Fitzpatrick into second place.
Dean rated the form he displayed to win the final as the best of his life - after showing “appalling form” only three days earlier, despite winning his first round in the match-play phase after qualifying through the stroke play section.
A month ago he had finished runner-up to Yorkshire team-mate Dan Brown (Bedale) in the Dutch Junior Open but said his form was “scrappy.”
But the transormation to title-winning form followed some advice from his coach Graham Walker.
Dean explained : “I spoke to Graham and he said instead of hitting balls on the range and getting more disheartened with myself I should go back to the golf club and play a few holes, just to get a bit more confidence back and get used to hitting tee shots [the latter being a particular source of concern]. Me and my caddie David Culf went back to Hillsborough Glf Club and, with some other mates, took out buggies and went and played about 10 holes and had a good laugh.
“I obviously still focused on every shot as I would in a tournament, but the tee shots got better, and I just tried to recreate that situation when I came back to Alwoodley and it paid off.”
He took the lead against former England A squad-mate Plant at the second in the 36-hole final and would never relinquish the advantage. He played the 29 holes needed to secure the title in an approximate four under par.
“These last two rounds [in the final] I felt less pressure than all the other rounds I’ve played this week,” he said. “I can’t understand why really. I guess it was just a feeling that I’d made it to the final so I told myself to just play my golf and see if it was good enough.
“I just felt really comfortable out there in the final even on the last few holes where all I needed to do was halve holes. I felt comfortable and confident over the tee shots, and every shot really.”
Dean praised the role of his mother Pauline in his career, who works as a mobile hairdresser and a school kitchen chef to help fund Dean on the expensive amateur circuit.
He said: “My mum is fantastic and I can’t thank her enough,” he said. “There’s been low times and there have been high times, but she has been with me all the way. She used to be my chauffeur before I could drive, and she’s still my organiser and my PA.”