Declan wins – and keeps his dream alive

Yorkshire teenager Declan Stoppard is England’s male handicap golfer of the year – and chasing his dream towards an outing with a star of the European Tour.

Stoppard, from Doncaster Golf Club, won the men’s national final of the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy at England Golf Week at Frilford Heath Golf Club, Oxfordshire. He scored net 69 – three-under – on the Red course and took the trophy on countback from Howard Bowden of Sussex.

Now, together with the next eight players, Stoppard goes forward to play in the pro-am of the Bridgestone Challenge at Luton Hoo next month.

They’ll be joined there by the nine qualifiers from yesterday’s women’s final to make up six pro-am teams – and the best team will play at the pro-am of the British Masters, supported by Sky Sports, in October. Last year’s winning team played with Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts.

The nine qualifiers are:

Declan Stoppard of Doncaster, Yorkshire

Howard Bowden of Tilgate Forest, Sussex

Sanjay Khuller of Hoebridge, Surrey

Ben Brown of Masham, Yorkshire

Nicholas Lyons of Lindfield, Sussex

Spencer Burlingham of Saffron Walden, Cambridgeshire

Richard Crook Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire

Scott Davis of Broadway, Gloucestershire

Martin Derrick of Dyke, Sussex


The prospect of teaming up with a Tour golfer was a huge incentive for 18-year-old Stoppard. “I’ve always dreamed of playing with a European Tour player so I’m definitely heading in the right direction. I can’t wait!

“I read up on last year’s competition and it sounded really, really good so I just had to give it a go.”

He reached the final with a winning round at his club, when he scored 44 points, and then qualified at a regional event.

But, playing off four handicap, he had no hopes of winning the overall prize.

“I came in here with zero expectation as it was a net competition. So I’m really pleased to come away with the trophy,” he said. He’s also expecting to cut his handicap to three.

He started in the right way, with a birdie on the 10th – his first hole – and went on to add four more during the round.

Stoppard’s success gives Doncaster Golf Club double cause to celebrate. Yesterday, women members Carole Morris and Jane Butler won the national final of the Australian Spoons at Golf Week.

And, back in 2015, Stoppard was part of the winning Doncaster team in the Junior Champion Club competition.

England Golf Week is a five-day festival of handicap golf, featuring the finals of a host of team and individual events for club players.

Caption: Declan Stoppard with other qualifiers at the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy.(Image copyright Leaderboard Photography).