Yorkshire golf: Danny Willett leads acclaim for Dan Brown, White Rose's third English champion in a row

MASHAM'S Dan Brown did not have to dig too deeply into his memory banks for comfirmation that, at four down with 10 holes to play in the English men's amateur championship final, the title was far from decided.

Dan Brown, the new English men's amateur champion (Picture: Leaderboard Photography).

Only the day before in his semi-final at Ganton, Brown had been seven up after nine holes against Jack Gaunt (Drayton Park), but was taken all the way to the last green before winning.

“That meant I knew a comeback was possible, but I knew I had to hit some really good golf shots coming down those final few holes,” said former Dutch Junior Open winner Brown. “I just needed to keep piling the pressure on and it kind of worked.

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“The last six holes I didn’t really hit a bad golf shot.

“I am quite proud of myself in the fact that I got it together after struggling a little bit. I’d played exceptionally well in the four or five matches prior to this one so to not quite have it going your way and then to produce when you need to produce is quite nice.”

It meant that Yorkshire had its third English men’s amateur champion in successive years, following on from Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh in 2014 and Lindrick’s Joe Dean last year.

“I have grown up playing my golf with those two so they’ve done it and obviously that is an extra inspiration,” said 21-year-old Brown. “And (Meltham’s) Jamie Bower has won the Brabazon Trophy (the English men’s open stroke play championship) this year as well so Yorkshire golf is looking good.”

It is indeed, as it has done for some while as evidenced by the fact that the 2007 champion, who also hails from Yorkshire, was able to send a congratulatory message to Brown from the exalted position of Masters champion.

Sheffield’s Danny Willett told Brown: “I can remember the feelings you’re experiencing and your family and friends will rightly be very proud of you.

“You’re obviously on the right track so keep doing what you’re doing, be smart and effective with your practice and who knows how far you can go?”

It is that imponderable that means Brown is not certain when he will make what appears the inevitable step into the paid ranks alongside the world No 9.

“We’ll see about turning pro, you can’t say yes or no,” he commented.

“It’s always a possibility – it was a possibility last year, but it depends. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

His immediate target is the European amateur championship in Estonia, which meant there was little time for celebration after Saturday’s win as he needed to head south to catch a 6.45 flight from Stansted to Tallinn.

It also meant he barely had time to say ‘Told you so’ to his parents after his predictions of a major success came to fruition.

“Mum and Dad are probably sick of hearing me say that there’s a big result coming, but it’s happened,” he smiled.

“I’ve been playing really well all year, but I’ve not had the kind of results that I felt I deserved.

“So obviously, with it coming to the end of the season I’ve just given it a really good push.

“Everything, all facets of my game, I’ve just kept improving.

“In the past I have not really been great tee to green and my short game had saved save me, and my putting.

“But now I am starting to really hit the ball well.”

This confidence in his game did not waiver even after a first round of 80 at Ganton in the 36-hole stroke play qualifying that preceded the match play stage.

Brown knew he had to go low on day two at Scarborough South Cliff and did just that with a four-under-par 68 that made him one of 13 Yorkshire players left with a chance of making it three White Rose wins in a row.

Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs’ president Jonathan Plaxton had recognised Brown’s form this year by tipping him as a likely successor to Marsh and Dean.

Only the fact that birdie putts refused to drop prevented Brown from leading at lunch against Bloor. Instead he was one down, and quickly the deficit stretched to a daunting four holes.

However, a combination of mental strength and physical application meant that his game showed no weaknesses coming down the final stretch while Bloor – with whom Brown had shared an apartment during the event – showed fallibility.

“He’ll be gutted after having a commanding lead, but I think he’ll be alright,” said Brown. “He’s had a good week – we both have – and as far as I’m concerned we’re both winners.”