Date: January 11, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

From long way back, Dann chasing hard

There’s a picture of a young Charlie Dann caddying for John Daly on his website that, if you could caption it, would surely say “golf’s odd couple”.

Aside from golfing ability, the two are about as disparate as you could possibly manage.

Daly is the brash, loud American; Dann the impeccably polite young Queenslander who until a couple of years ago was quietly working in the Peregian Springs pro shop.

But that’s all changing – except for the parts about manners and volume.

Dann, 23, is charging; rapidly making up for what he’d tell you was a slow start along a different path that many at this week’s Australian Amateur Championship have trodden.

There are 30 Australian amateurs higher than Dann on the world rankings.

But only a small number, if any, are more dedicated.

Dann is travelling with the Queensland Academy of Sport squad this week even though he’s not yet a member.

He arrives at Metropolitan and Kingswood on the back of an outstanding run to third position – and leading Aussie – at last week’s Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne.

Both are factors that point to what could be the most important aspect of Dann’s game, this week and beyond – he’s starting to feel like he belongs.

“Absolutely, I’m starting to believe it for sure, now. It has taken a year, but it’s been very promising,” Dann said.

“Obviously being an amateur it’s all about getting experience and being able to put yourself into that position where you can perform at the high level.

“I’m starting to do that more and more now and to get into that position (last) week was what I wanted to do.

“It wasn’t really about winning or losing … it was about being here and making the most of the opportunity … and I think I did that.”

And that typifies Dann’s understated manner.

The Sunshine Coaster, who trains with QAS assistant coach Grant Field at Pelican Waters, started his final round at Royal Melbourne six shots adrift of world No.8 and eventual winner Aaron Wise.

But after an eagle on the West Course’s 12th, then birdies on the 14th and 15th, Dann was suddenly within a shot of the lead at six under for his round as most of the field went into reverse.

A hint of understandable nerves and one of Australia’s toughest closing stretches combined for three closing bogeys, but it didn’t diminish the achievement.

“It was a very enjoyable round, playing really nicely and I’ve probably never putted better in my life, so that was very exciting,” he said.

“I had a couple of birdies in the middle stretch of the back nine, so it was good to get that feeling (of contesting the lead).

“The greens were immaculate and it’s a privilege to play here.”

And that speaks of the outstanding – and information-hungry – attitude Dann brings to the table this week.

Golf Australia national coach and QAS program boss Tony Meyer said Dann’s rapid improvement had been because he’d finally been able to dedicate himself.

“From 18-21 he was working at Peregian, so he couldn’t really focus on his game,” Meyer said.

“But he’s going hard at it now working with Grant and really coming into his own.

“Charlie’s a really good guy and a really hard worker. He’s the sort of guy who’ll hang around to see better players when he’s finished his round and learn something new.

“I suppose you could say he’s a late bloomer … his game has really developed and he’s shown some good results which is great considering how hard he works on his game.”

For his part, Dann is just thriving on lessons he’s filing away on some of Australia’s greatest courses – with Metropolitan and Kingswood adding to his education.

“The condition of these courses is amazing and I can’t wait to roll some more putts in on such beautiful greens.”

Sounds just like John Daly, right? Not. <image="x" align="left" />