NEWLY-CROWNED Northern Golf Masters champion Sam Donald has put everything else on hold in a bid to ensure he can fulfil his true potential and make the grade in professional golf.
Donald added the title to three other success stories in 2014 - including the Durham County Boys Championship – and his progress has led to him having a rethink on his short-term plans.
The recently turned 18-year-old, from Eaglescliffe, returned a three-under par 69 at Rockliffe Hall courtesy of playing the back nine in three-under around the Hurworth track.
That was enough to edge out Rockliffe’s very own James Rogers by one shot in a strong field consisting of many of the area’s best amateur golfers. Third place was Rogers’ Rockliffe colleague Callum Tarren, who ended on one under par.
Donald said: “To be honest I feel that was the best I’ve felt on a golf course in a long while. I was coming off two missed cuts in the Scottish Youths and the Carris Trophy, especially the Carris that was the worst I played all year.
“To come to Rockliffe and for everything to come together was just brilliant. My caddy David Loade, used to be a member at Rockliffe and he gave me some brilliant reads on the greens especially on the back nine which was a big help, he was brilliant.
“My first win this year was at Redcar in the Cleveland Salver that was a massive shock, there were a lot of great players in that event so I thought a top ten finish would be a good day. To come into the club house to find I had made it into a playoff was a big shock.
“My second win came at the Durham County Boys Championship. This is my last year as a junior so to win that was very special. The Eaglescliffe Club Championship was my third, shooting 69-67 and I only won by one from Tom Smith.”
Having delivered so much already this year, Donald could find it difficult to build on his achievements. He is, though, focused on delivering with the help of his coach.
He said: “Last year was good winning the club championship but to have four wins already with two months left of the season is beyond my expectations. My coach Andrew Nicholson is the big factor to my good form. He is one of the best coaches in this country teaching tour pros and England internationals so to have Andrew only 20 minutes down the road at Wynyard, I am very lucky.”
With the help and guidance of Nicholson, Donald has plans to take on America. He said: “The end goal for me is to be a tour pro hopefully.
“Me and my family made a big decision this year as I was scheduled to start a full-time apprenticeship in June but we put it aside to concentrate on my golf and so far it was good decision. I would love to end up in America with a golf scholarship that would be great.
“I still have a couple of big events left, the British Boys and the North of England Youths at Middlesbrough so at the moment I’m practicing for them. I’ve been a little disappointed with my form in the national events so far so to play well and post some good finishes in those would be great.”
Donald will have a little help from his family. He said: “My dad introduced me to golf and is a massive help, always supporting me on the course and giving me encouragement even when I’m playing poor.
“All my family are an amazing help, my mum helps me with my events and planning my year, which there’s no chance I could do on my own. My brother, Thomas, is very generous with our car. We both share a car to get ourselves around but I need it quite a lot to get to Wynyard, events and other matches. He is always happy to give it up for me. I am very grateful to them all for every bit of effort they all put in to help me with my golf.”