PRUDHOE Golf Club is continuing its tradition of developing top quality juniors and two of their young guns have secured both the Northumberland junior titles for the "Home of Champions".
Dan Shevill and Tom Rowland are both category one players and along the way it seems the pair have developed a highly competitive but friendly rivalry in an effort to see who can win the most tournaments during 2009.
In the Junior Match Play Championship at Wallsend in May, Dan qualified comfortably just three shots behind top qualifier, Ponteland's Richard Robson-Crosby. Both players had comfortable paths to the final and, in a strong wind, which suited Dan's game better, he beat Richard 4&3.
But the Junior Stroke Play Championship at Northumberland in June provided a reversal of fortunes. This wasn't evident after the first round where Dan's first round 73 put him one shot behind the leader, City of Newcastle's Nicky Maddison, and two shots ahead of Tom.
In the second round however, Tom's putter warmed up at last as he slotted seven birdies in a four-under par round of 68 to beat Nicky on a count back. Dan's 74 saw him finish in a creditable 4th place. The Prudhoe pair have also been performing well in other high profile tournaments this season.
In the Faldo Series UK Championship at the difficult Ganton course in April, Tom fired two rounds of 74 to finish second in the Under-16s category and just miss out on a place in the Grand Final in Brazil. And to add to his frustration, his score would have won the Under-21 group!
However, with the standard scratch lifted to 74 in both rounds, he did at least have the consolation of a few points off his handicap.
Dan meanwhile, was having more success when he fought off a field of top class players to win the prestigious Newbiggin Tankard with scores of 68 and 70 for a six-under par 138 and a two-shot win over City of Newcastle's Simon Lee.
Tom, however, was not far behind with rounds of 71 and 72 for sixth place and the best nett prize.
And in his latest event, Dan's decision not to defend his Prudhoe club championship title to play in the Camerons Scratch Open at Ponteland proved to be the right one. In a nail bighting finish, 20-year-old Shevill shot 71 and a course record-equaling five under par 67, to win on a count back from City's Lee, who shot 70 and 68.
The pair finished five shots clear of four players including Durham star, Michael Curry of Brancepeth, and Northumberland County Championship finalist, Darren Smith (Arcot Hall), who both shot 67s in the morning round only to fall away with second round 76s in the blustery conditions.
It was the last four holes in the afternoon that helped secure the victory. Following a bogey 5 at the 14th, Dan responded with a tap in birdie 2 at the 15th. The 450-yard 16th, straight into the teeth of the wind, was virtually unreachable for many players. However a booming drive, followed by a 210-yard 4 iron to the green and a 15-foot putt secured a rare birdie.
His drive to the par 4 17th just failed to carry the greenside bunker but a good up and down saved par. At the par 5 18th, his drive just caught the rough and was lying badly. But Shevill drilled a magnificent 3 iron around and under a tree, over a fairway bunker and onto the green 50 feet from the flag. The first putt left a knee trembling three-footer, which he safely negotiated for victory.
The Camerons Scratch Open is part of the 10 tournament ZFL Golf Order of Merit 'Green Jacket' series newly established in 2009 after an absence of several years. Coming into the event, Shevill was sitting in 4th place behind Series leader Jason Jones (Saltburn), Curry and Callum Tarren (Dinsdale), who withdrew, but back-to-back wins in the Mammoet-sponsored Newbiggin Silver Tankard and the Camerons Open have propelled him to the top of the Order of Merit and landed him two £500 first prizes.
In fact, it's worked out very well for the Prudhoe club as they now have three players who have qualified to play in the Journal Champion of Champions tournament at Slaley Hall in September.
Dan Shevill gets in as 2009 Northumberland Junior Match Play Champion, Tom Rowland as 2009 Northumberland Junior Stroke Play Champion and James Curry as the 2009 Prudhoe Club Champion.