(Golf Australia Photo)
MELBOURNE, Australia (January 6, 2017) -- This time last year, Charlie Dann hoped to win the Australian Master of the Amateurs; tomorrow, he expects to.
That’s a big point of difference for the young Queenslander who readily admits he was a late bloomer, but at 24 is now really making his presence felt in amateur ranks.
Dann, of the Sunshine Coast, will take a five-shot buffer into the final round at Royal Melbourne, using what he termed “boring” golf to shoot a third consecutive sub-70 round and total 10 under.
His nearest rival is Cameron John, the Victorian teen who has lobbed into the final group via a totally different route.
John, a Golf Australia national squad member last year, opened inauspiciously with rounds of 72 and 74, but stood on the 16th tee today an incredible nine under par.
That he closed with bogeys on the 16th and 18th wasn’t ideal, but took next to no gloss of an imperious 65 on the famous West Course.
And the final member of the last trio is another improving Queenslander, Shae Wools-Cobb, who poured in four birdies in his closing seven holes to leap to four under.
American Shintaro Ban and Geelong’s Jack Murdoch are also at four under, and will share the second-last group with 2015 champion Zach Murray, of Wodonga, who’ll start at three under.
Second-round leader James Grierson could only manage a 78 today to slide to two under, a score that accurately reflects a series of unlucky bounces that rocked his title hopes.
First-round leader Karl Vilips made a sluggish start today, but recovered for a 74 that left him at two over.
But they’ll all be chasing Dann, who went from strength to strength throughout 2016 with big domestic wins at Mandurah and Keperra as well as several other top finishes – a run he attributes to the confidence with which he left Royal Melbourne.
“I love it here and it really makes you concentrate on every shot and that seems to be working well for me – just playing it to the middle of the greens and being boring,” Dann said with trademark grin.
“You can call me Charlie `Boring’ Dann, if you like.”
That self-effacing approach belies the elite standards he’s brought back to Victoria, with an astonishing 20 birdies under his belt through three rounds.
“Is it really? It doesn’t feel like that,” said Dann, who led late last year before three closing bogeys consigned him to third.
“I’m not getting ahead of myself, but I think it’s repetitive from last year and just being a little bit better, maybe making some better choices than last year.
“In my last year, results-wise (has been better), but mentally is a bigger part for me and to have a bit more confidence in myself at this point shows how far I’ve come.”
Dann was never a prodigy, but has blossomed tremendously since focusing on a future pro golf career in his early 20s.
But he doesn’t view his “late” start as an obstacle too big to overcome.
“I’m better off. The way I look at it is that as an amateur I’m pretty old, but as a pro I’m not very old.
“If I turn pro in the next 12 months, I’m pretty certain I’ll be fine,” said Dann, who paid tribute to the structure of the QAS squad in Brisbane for his improvement.
“That’s the best thing I’ve done in the past 12 months … just getting better at my game and not worrying about anyone else’s.”
Which leaves the elephant in the room – Dann’s late collapse last year on AMOTA debut that cost him victory.
“I think I’m ready for it. I’ve been in the same situation a couple of times in the past year and I’ve got through it. I’m looking forward to being in those situations because that’s the situation you’ll be in as a professional and you’ve got to win money and it’s nothing compared to that.
“Give me the same shots (as last year) again and I’ll be ready.”
ABOUT THE Master of the Amateurs
The Master of the Amateurs, a 72-hole medal play
has rapidly become one of the
elite championships in amateur golf. Like The
Masters, the champion
receives a Green Jacket. Contestants
participate in the first round of the
championship with professional golfers in a
unique Am-Pro Invitational.
The Master of the Amateurs winner gets an
invitation to the Porter
Cup in the U.S. Likewise the winners of those
two tournaments receive invitations to the
next Master of the Amateurs tournament.
A qualifying round (see tournament
website for date and handicap requirement)
three non-exempt players to earn invitations
into the prestigious field.
View Complete Tournament Information