MELTHAM’S Jamie Bower went close to making it an all-Yorkshire final in the English Men’s Amateur championship, only bowing out after two extra holes of his last-four match with Sundridge Park’s Alfie Plant at Alwoodley GC.
The obvious disappointment he felt was certainly eased yesterday when he learned that he has hit one of his season’s targets – an England call-up.
Bower, new English champion Joe Dean (Lindrick) and Bedale’s Dan Brown have all been selected for the Home Internationals at Royal Portrush next week.
Twenty-two-year-old Bower and Brown are currently in Slovakia to compete in the European championship.
“I’m delighted to have been picked for the Home Internationals as it was a goal of mine at the start of the year, so I’m really happy to have achieved that,” said Bower.
“It’s my first full England team selection [he has been a member of the A squad] so I’m very excited about playing.”
Dismay at being unable to join Dean in Saturday’s 36-hole final in the quest to succeed their Yorkshire team-mate Nick Marsh (Huddersfield) as English champion has given way to a realisation of how much he achieved.
“I’m really pleased to have reached the semis, as it’s by far the furthest I’ve got in any big match play tournament,” reflected Bower.
“My long game was the best it’s been all year for the qualifying and the first round of the match play, but it wasn’t as good after that, particularly in the semi-final. My putting was mainly what helped me to get so far.”
In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on stroke play events than in the past, a tacit acknowledgement that the young stars of tomorrow need to hone these skills ahead of the demands of professional tournament golf more than they need to polish their match play prowess.
However, Bower welcomes the fact that the country’s elite amateurs get to play both forms of the game.
“I think it is quite refreshing that the amateur game has both stroke and match play tournaments, as it’s a nice change for us,” said. “I’ve always really fared better in stroke play tournaments so far. I’m not really sure why, but that result last week has given me a lot more confidence in my match play ability, so I can’t wait to play some more match play next week against some quality players.”
Like many players of his standard, the life of a touring professional is his aspiration and to that end he is looking towards competing in the European Tour’s Qualifying School in October.
“My decision whether or not to turn pro will ride on that,” he explained. “If I can obtain a European or Challenge Tour card then I’ll turn pro, I think, but if I’m unsuccessful then I’ll stay amateur for the forseeable future.”
Bower’s parents have been a huge support in helping him meet the expenses of competing against his amateur peers, and he supplemented this with some work at a local restaurant last winter although the need to play and practise regularly meant it was a short-lived position.
Next week his mother and father will be compensated for all their backing with the pride they will feel when the Meltham man makes his England bow in County Antrim.