NORTHCLIFFE’S Mark Cook proved that perseverance pays when he won the Bradford Open for the first time more than 25 years after first entering the event.
He carded two consecutive rounds of 69 at Keighley to win by two shots from Bingley St Ives’ Dane Bairstow.
Family commitments and a declining sharpness in his short game almost led Bradford Union player Cook to quit the game as his handicap rose from scratch to four.
But under the tutelage of Sandburn professional Steve Robinson - who coaches the English Ladies’ national squad as well as Yorkshire’s men’s, ladies’ and boys’ teams - Cook is back down to one.
He admits that as well as benefiting from his own hard work, practising hi short game every day in his back garden, he enjoyed good fortune with his tee-times.
“Conditions for myself were really good, sunny all day,” said Cook, who played both rounds alongside Bairstow.
“Then, about 45 minutes after we finished it started thundering and it was kind of touch and go as the players were called off the course.
“I was panicking a bit because if they hadn’t gone out again I wouldn’t have won because it would have been decided on the first 18 holes.
“I just prayed for good weather and after half an hour’s rain delay there were blue skies again and everyone went out.”
Cook had watched as Bairstow notched a superb three-under-par 66 to his 69.
The Bingley St Ives player started to drop shots in the second round and midway through the back nine, Cook moved ahead.
“I’d pulled level after about 12 or 13 holes and then I was one ahead after 15. Unfortunately I had a double bogey at 16 and he had a par, so he went one ahead again. Then at 17 I birdied and he bogeyed so I was one ahead again.
“I birdied the last and he parred it, but even when we finished I thought someone else would come in with a better score than level par.”
Cook has begun playing again for Bradford in the Yorkshire Inter District Union league after a hiatus and is likely to be teeing it up against York at Fulford on Sunday - as champion of one of the most prestigious events on the union’s calendar.