Queenslander Charlie Dann has ticked off another box in his meteoric rise by winning his first National Ranking in the Mandurah Amateur at Mandurah Country Club.
Dann, 23, cruised home for a four shot victory against an elite amateur field that saw 33 of Australia’s best travel to WA from the eastern states, contesting for a title won previously by major winner Geoff Ogilvy, Olympian Marcus Fraser and five time European Tour winner Brett Rumford.
NSW pair Austin Bautista and Blake Windred finished tied for second on 4-under par, while WA's Min Woo Lee finished fourth on 1-under par as the last remaining golfer in the red over 72 holes.
A clear sky greeted the 52 golfers who made the cut for marathon 36 hole final day, but it was the cold and blustery conditions that caused trouble for most of the field.
Dann seemed impervious to the wind that caused havoc in tandem with the tight tree lines fairways, shooting back to back 3-under rounds of 68 to be the only golfer under par in both rounds on the Monday.
And it’s been a strong year for the Pelican Waters golfer who finished second at the Lake Macquarie Amateur and an impressive third at the Master of the Amateurs.
“It feels amazing and a long time coming,” said Dann of his first National Rankings win.
“I’ve had a lot of good results from second to fifth in a lot of different events, and finally being able to hold on to a win after being in the lead is always a really good feeling.
“I didn’t want to think about [leading] too much. I’ve done that recently but it didn’t really work out too well for me. It started off cold and really tough and those conditions usually suit my game, and it went quite well and I just hung in there and made a lot of putts, a lot of four footers and it ended up really nicely.
“I sort of took the emphasis off who was doing what and just focused on each hole at a time and put myself in good spots on the green and hit a lot of good iron shots. I wasn’t even trying to hole some of those putts that went in, it’s just obviously my day and I loved every minute of it.”
At 23, Dann is almost a veteran of the amateur golfing circuit, but his win is an incredible achievement for a golfer who hadn’t taken up the game until he was 15.
At 18 he was playing off a handicap of 5.
Some in this week’s field were already winning titles at the same age Dann picked up a club, including WA's Fred Lee who won the NT Amateur at 15 and finished 5th this week.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer, and I only started playing the game late too,” Dann said.
“It takes a bit to put it out of my mind that I’m two to three years older than these guys but golf’s a game you can play until whenever, and if I just keep getting better each year that’s what’s important.
“The last two years have been a really big turning point. Stopping full time work to go to part time is where it all changed for me.”
Defending champion Shae Wools-Cobb suffered a disaster 7-over second round in his 4-over total, but the Queenslander had no issues in passing the title on to his good friend.
Wools-Cobb and Dann are not only Queensland state team-mates, but live within 500m of each other on the Sunshine Coast, and share more than just a title when it comes to their games.
After Wools-Cobb signed for his card he was sure to head back on course to bring Dann home, although Dann joked about Wool-Cobb's ulterior motives.
“Shae wanted me to come back to his score from last year, and I think I got him by one so that was my score over the last couple of holes,” said Dann.
“We’ve got a great relationship. We train together and drive together to Brisbane three days a week together to visit the Queensland Academy of Sport.
“They’ve helped me massively this year. I get a lot of help and a lot of direction and I think they’ve all contributed massively to this win.”