YORKSHIRE county player Joe Dean will look to give the county successive English Men’s Amateur championship successes in today’s 36-hole final at Alwoodley GC.
The Lindrick GC member takes on Alfie Plant, of Sundridge Park, Kent hoping to emulate Huddersfield GC’s Nick Marsh, who lifted the crown at saunton, Devon last year.
He could so easily have been up against county team-mate Jamie Bower, of Meltham GC.
After England international Dean had seen off Rob Burlison (Enville) 2&1 in his semi-final, Bower needed to dig deep to win the 18th hole to take his contest with Plant to extra holes.
However, he eventually succumbed at the 20th hole of the match.
Dean, 21, who had battled through a tight morning quarter-final, found another dogged opponent in Burlison.
It was a semi-final which, by the former’s account, was packed with adventurous phases.
His short game was put to the test on occasion and happily for him and the home support it was not found wanting.
Having got up and down from 50 yards at one hole he then showed equal ability from double that distance from the cup to roll three shots into two again, an invaluable weapon in the match player’s armoury.
He had started brightly, taking the first two holes with birdies, but by the fifth he had been pulled back to all square.
He subsequently fell one behind when Burlison birdied the short 7th.
The match then oscillated as the lead swapped hands between the two combatants.
Dean got one ahead after birdies on the eighth and 10th.
Burlison responded and was one hole to the good after the 13th.
But the Lindrick man won the short 14th with a par and holed a 15ft putt on 15 for another birdie and a crucial, one-hole advantage.
Two pars later and he had claimed his place in the final.
Dean declared that his first aim in this championship was to do better than last year, when he reached the last eight.
“Once I got past that I felt as though a lot of pressure had lifted. There’s still a lot of pressure coming down the last few holes, but I have enjoyed it a lot more.
“My attitude has been 100 times better than normal and I’ve felt a lot calmer.”
Twenty-three-year-old Plant said of his defeat of Bower: “It hasn’t really sunk in.
“All week I’ve been so focused on getting to the final, doing all I can to get there – and now I’m there.
“It’s going to be a good match.”
He said his match with Bower had not been pretty – but it made amends for that with its dramatic content.
Bower gained an early advantage, but for much of the match they were all square before Plant went one ahead on the 17th.
However, he stumbled on the challenging 18th, finding a bunker off the tee, coming out of there into long grass and bogeying the hole.
Bower had played two great shots into the green and kept his hopes alive.
On the 19th, Bower had the advantage after playing another superb shot into the green, but his birdie putt slipped by.
“I had my hat half off,” said Plant, who had watched the Yorkshireman sink an identical putt first time round.
Plant played safe on the 20th, taking an iron off the tee and knocking his approach to within 10ft of the pin.
Bower found a bunker with his drive and his second went just over the green from where he took three to get down – and conceded the match.
His presence in the last four was a testament to his ability to battle while not on top of his game.
He said he had “lost” his ball striking yesterday and Thursday would spend today practising ahead of the European Championship in Slovakia.
Dean came through a tight morning match against George Bloor (Cavendish), winning by one hole after his opponent struggled with rough and trees on the 18th.
“It was a good game all round and it was a pity George had a bad run at the last,” said Dean.
Bloor was two up after 14, but Dean came back to win the 15th, helped by a career shot to the green, and the 16th, which he birdied. His plan this week has been to play the 18th via the first fairway and it paid off when he reached the green safely in two and won the hole.
Bower defeated Jake Storey (Alnmouth) 3&2 and commented: “It was a tough match. Jake started like a train and had four birdies in the first five holes. I had three birdies just to keep up.”
But Bower was on level terms by the seventh and three up after 13. He lost the 14th, but birdied 15 and the match was conceded on the next.
“Jake played great golf, I was just fortunate in that I managed to hole more putts,” said Bower.
Burlison had also gone through to the semi-finals one up, beating last year’s runner-up Scott Gregory (Corhampton). Plant had beaten Tom Robson (Weymouth) 4&3 in the quarter-finals.
Spectators are welcome at today’s 36-hole final at Alwoodley GC and entrance is free.
A video report will be up on line at yorkshirepost.co.uk/sport