BEDALE’S Dan Brown will play in the KLM Dutch Open at the Kennemer Golf & Country Club in Zandvoort in September after his weekend victory in the TGH Dutch Junior Open.
It will give the Walker Cup squad member a taste of what he hopes will become a regular occurrence when he ultimately turns professional.
His aim is to play tournament golf for a living and last week, against a high-class amateur field at Toxandria GC, he displayed one of the pre-requisites of competing at the highest levels of the game – single-mindedness.
Brown was paired with Yorkshire county team-mate Joe Dean on the final day of four as they had shared the third-round lead.
But while he admits it was “nice” to be alongside someone he has known for years through county and international golf, it did not affect his mind set.
“I don’t really tend to care about who I’m playing with,” he said. “I was just trying to keep focused on my own game and not get sidetracked by what the other people, including Joe, were doing.”
Brown’s scores were successively one stroke lower each day, starting with a 71 and closing with a 68.
Perversely, though, his assessment of the week is that he played much better golf when scoring 71 and 70 than he did shooting 69 and 68.
The difference is that he rolled three shots into two more regularly in the final two rounds after a lengthy session on the putting green following his second round.
“My putting was a bit suspect the first two days,” he explained. “I was missing putts which I should really have been holing. I could easily have shot two rounds of six under but for my putting.
“I went and did some putting practice on Thursday afternoon after my round for about an hour and a half. I was just trying to go back to basics a little bit and trying to get the feeling of holing a few putts.
“My play tee to green the last two days was okay – I didn’t do anything special – but I kept it out of trouble and had a few really good up and downs and holed a few nice putts for birdies.
“I was actually hitting the ball a lot better in the first two days, I just wasn’t converting the chances I gave myself from 10ft and inwards.”
After birdieing the first hole on day four, Brown moved into the lead on his own and stretched further ahead to win, ultimately, by five shots from Dean.
Leader boards around the course kept him posted as to what was happening ahead of him, but he managed to walk the fine line that divides ignorance of the situation from information overload.
“I could see I was leading, but I tried not to get too far ahead of myself,” said Brown. “I was trying to play my own game and not try and make too many mistakes. My main goal was just to keep the bogeys off my card knowing the birdies would come.
“I thought after the front nine if I could just par in for the rest of the way it would probably be good enough so I wasn’t really trying for too many birdies. I was just trying to hit the middle of the greens. I holed a nice putt on 15 and a nice one on 18 and I think I only missed one green on the back nine.
“My game plan was just to limit the mistakes, hit fairways and the middle of the greens and not go chasing flags when I really didn’t need to.”
Looking ahead to the KLM Open, he plans to absorb as much as he can from the experience, hoping that any knowledge he banks in September can be drawn on in future years.
“My ultimate aim is to play on the European Tour, but maybe that won’t mean turning pro this year,” he continued.
“I will see how it goes, but certainly by next year I think I’m going to look to turn pro and get on the Challenge Tour or the European Tour and try to earn some money out of the sport.”
Both his father Michael and grandfather Thompson are good golfers, holding single-figure handicaps during their golfing careers, and Brown started following in their footsteps from the age of about seven.
“That was when I started to play properly, but with my dad and granddad both keen golfers I always had a plastic club in my hands from about the age of two or three,” he said.
Brown will hope to carry with him into the professional ranks the game’s highest representative honour as an amateur in this country – playing for Great Britain & Ireland’s Walker Cup team against the United States in what is the unpaid ranks’ equivalent of the Ryder Cup.
As a member of the provisional squad – alongside Huddersfield’s English Amateur champion Nick Marsh – he will be at the event’s venue, Royal Lytham, for two training days on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Winning the Dutch Junior Open will certainly have given the Walker Cup selectors a nudge, and Brown admitted: “It has given me a little boost ahead of the events coming up, but I’m not thinking too much about the Walker Cup.
“The whole year I’ve really tried to block it out and tried not to put too much pressure on myself. You get people coming up to you at the golf club saying, ‘when is the Walker Cup, are you going to be there?’ and it puts an added pressure on you.
“Obviously it gets talked about, but I try not to think about it when I’m out on the course.
“It is not the end of the world if you don’t get in, but obviously it’s a big help if you do. It’s just a nice luxury to enter into your career, it will give you extra help getting sponsorship and that sort of stuff.
“But there are guys that are doing amazingly well (as Touring professionals) who haven’t played in the Walker Cup, guys like Ian Poulter who never played a Walker Cup, or ever played for England, and he’s out there now playing in Ryder Cups and all sorts.”