Yorkshire’s Joe Dean almost holed in one to seal a resounding 9/7 victory in the English amateur championship at The Alwoodley Golf Club, Leeds.
His seven-iron shot to the 29th hole – the par three 11th – pitched just past the hole, spun back, went into the cup and flipped out again, settling a couple of inches away, to much applause from spectators.
His opponent, Alfie Plant of Kent, hit his tee shot but, once the players reached the green, he conceded the hole and the match. “I won the first match of the week with an eagle and I nearly finished it off with an eagle!” said Dean.
It provided a fitting end to an impressive display by the 21-year-old from Lindrick (image © Leaderboard Photography), who was four up after this morning’s round in the 36-hole final. He played the 29 holes of the match in four-under par, despite steady rain this afternoon – and a torrential downpour as the match drew to its close.
The players were able to complete the 28th hole – which Dean won after Plant’s tee shot went out of bounds – but course manager Philip Taylor had to squeegee the 29th green before they could play to it.
His win – on Yorkshire Day – marks a resounding return to form for Dean, a member of the England Golf men’s squad. “I’ve struggled through the start of the year and felt frustrated, so this means everything to me,” he said.
He has played extremely good golf throughout the match play rounds, capped by today’s performance. “I have played unbelievable golf today,” he said, noting that he hadn’t felt under pressure, even as he played the last few holes.
“I worked out a pre-shot routine with Graham Walker (the England coach), I picked the shots I wanted to play, tried hitting them and it all came together. It feels as if everything has finally paid off.”
Dean laid the foundations of his win this morning, when he was four up after the first 18 holes. He played steadily and, on the occasions when he did find trouble, he was generally able to extricate himself. Plant, from Sundridge Park in Kent, had contrasting fortunes and when he found trouble, too often it proved costly
This afternoon Dean set off at a great pace, winning the 19th and 20th with birdies. He was temporarily paused on the 21st, which the players halved in birdie, but won the next to get to seven up.
He dropped his only shot of the afternoon round on the 24th to lose the hole, but came straight back with a birdie two on the 25th. His wins on the 28th and 29th secured the title, to the delight of his family and supporters from Hillsborough Golf Club where he plays most of his golf.
Dean is hoping for a special bonus from his win. For the last two years he has won the Lee Westwood Trophy at Rotherham Golf Club and he joked: “Hopefully now everyone will stop calling me a one-course player!”
His next date is to represent Yorkshire in next week’s qualifying event for County Finals.