From tee to pin: Worldwide interest in Westwood trophy, as Dean sets a new record

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It’s a measure of the pulling power of the Sheffield region’s major amateur golf events when one of them can draw in competitors from China, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.

The annual Lee Westwood Trophy managed this achievement this year when a full field of 141 golfers competed for the 72-hole event held at its home, Rotherham Golf Club.

Two youngsters who made the trip from China were Chen Chen, aged 14, and Sen Cao, 16, a pair of up-and-coming youngsters tipped to go far in the game.

They have been in the UK over the summer with their coach David Watson, who wanted them to learn how to control the ball in tougher conditions than they are used to back home.

David, an international teammate of Lee Westwood in 1994, is now one of China’s top junior golf teachers. As the Dongguan government official golf team coach he has 40 elite boys and girls under his wing. He made the news last year when one of his students, 12 year old Ye Wo Cheng, became the youngest player to qualify for a European Tour event, The Volvo China Open.

In Rotherham Sen Cao was reflecting on his recent victory in the China Amateur Futures Championship and with team mate Chen Chen they were looking forward to the challenge at a gusty Rotherham golf course.

In the event neither of the boys scored well and missed the cut, but the experience was immeasurable, said David.

“They have played in the English Boys Amateur Championship, The Scottish Boys at Cruden Bay and the South of England Championship as well as the Lee Westwood Trophy.

“The boys are on a four year development programme with me and I wanted them to learn how to control the ball in the wind and experience quality golf courses. It’s been a great learning process for them.”

The Westwood Trophy proved a great success this year with England A squad player Joe Dean of Lindrick setting a tournament record to retain the silverware he won has year. The 20-year-old led from the start in the 72-hole world-ranking event and never looked like relinquishing his grasp over the field.

His record score of 266 was one shot lower than previous best set by Gary Wolstenholme in 2008.

His 12-shot margin of victory over England A squad teammates Robert Burlison of Oxley Park and Meltham’s Jamie Bower sum med up Dean’s play over the week.

Never over par, his four rounds of 67, 64, 65 and 70 included a low that was only 2 off the course record.

The 20 year old said: “ I played steadily all week. The driver was working well and the putts dropped.”

He started the final round 11 shots ahead at 14 under par but a bogey at the first tested his nerve. He steadied the ship with four pars and the four birdies that followed finally put the result beyond any doubt.

Despite scoring two double bogies in the round he recorded five consecutive 3s on the back nine.

“I was probably a bit too relaxed at the start of the final round which is why I started with a bogey.

But I stuck to my game and continued to be aggressive because it had worked all week.”

Dean, a +2 handicapper at the start of the tournament, has set himself the ambition of reaching the 2015 Walker Cup squad before considering turning professional.

“I will definitely remain amateur next year but will be looking for a quick start and hope to get a sniff at the Walker Cup but it will not be the all and end all if I don’t make it.”