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Tour pro-turned-delivery driver earns huge cash prize at Kenya Open

DP World Tour pro Joe Dean told NCG of the crippling nerves he felt when making one daring club change on the final hole at the Magical Kenya Open…

 

Joe Dean and his caddie bucked the trend while standing on the tee of the 72nd hole at the Magical Kenya Open.

Having laid up with an iron all week on this closing par 5, Dean pulled the driver in pursuit of a first DP World Tour victory and what could be a life-changing purse waiting in the clubhouse.

His decision paid dividends as he went on to make a birdie, card a 67 and finish in a tie for second worth £170,000. Having earned his card at the gruelling six-round tour school in November, Dean now finds himself in the top 40 of the Race to Dubai.

The risk was forgotten when he rolled in his putt for four, despite the crippling anxiety he felt with the big stick in his hand about 10 minutes before.

“I didn’t know how high up I was until the scoreboard I saw after the 17th green, and then I realised on the 18th,” Dean said to NCG.

“All week, I played it quite safe and had an iron off the tee. There were two bunkers in the middle of the fairway at 280 (yards away), so I’d been hitting a 4- and a 5-iron for the past three days just to stay before them.

“You could get up from short of the bunkers, but you’re looking at like a 4- or a 3-iron or maybe into a wood, and it wasn’t the most open of second shots, so me and Max had a quick chat walking to the 18th tee and we said, ‘It might only be one chance of having a go at getting up somewhere near pushing the leader’.

“So we thought we might never get another chance so we may as well take it, so we took driver out and fortunately – I can’t even explain how nervous I was, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to hit the shot. If you’ve done enough work up to that point, then you’ll hit a good shot.

“If you haven’t done enough work, then you if haven’t, it won’t work out, so it was very nerve-wracking but until you just set up to it and think right – just go through everything you’ve done before and see what comes out.”

joe dean

ALSO: Where could Joe Dean play next on the DP World Tour schedule?

Joe Dean: Golf and graft have gone hand in hand

It’s been well-documented that golf hasn’t been Dean’s only source of income since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the UK in 2020. He began to help his partner Emily’s dad with his painting and decorating business before taking a job driving for Morrisons.

He’d been driving for the supermarket giant in the weeks leading up to the tournament in Nairobi. The 29-year-old had aimed to play in Bahrain at the start of February, but his exemption category through his success at Q-School in the winter didn’t grant him a spot.

Dean didn’t know he was in the following Commercial Bank Qatar Masters until the Saturday before the event began, which left him little time to prepare having flown to the Middle East in the early hours of Monday morning. He would end up missing the cut, before his big week in Kenya.

While his story of off-course graft doesn’t resonate with the glamour portrayed on the PGA Tour on our Sky Sports television boxes, Dean’s work at Morrisons has helped him to achieve comfort and a stable livelihood, while also remaining calm on the course which he admits hasn’t always been the case.

“Once COVID hit and I got the Morrisons job, it allowed us to be eligible toward a mortgage, so from that side of it, if Morrisons hadn’t come around, then we probably wouldn’t have been able to move on outside of golf within our lives,” the Yorkshireman added.

“And that’s why I’m very grateful for it. It’s taken the edge of it being the be-all and end-all of everything and it has made me a lot more relaxed going into golf and I think that’s for the better.

“I’ve never been the most chilled person on the golf course. If you speak to a lot of people I have got a temper, but the calmer I can stay, generally the better I can play.

“Having the thought that, especially with the one-day events before qualifying for the DP World Tour, knowing that basically, it’s not going to cripple me if I don’t make some money, it’s been nice.”

An outstanding early career saw him win the English Amateur Championship in 2015, but he made his debut on the DP World Tour, or what was called the European Tour, at the KLM Open three years before, having won the Dutch Junior Masters to earn a spot.

Under the tuition of Graham Walker, who has coached the likes of Danny Willett and Paul Waring, Dean didn’t make the cut but it was some experience for an amateur of just 17 years of age.

“Feeling very out of place!” were the first words in Dean’s mind when recollecting that week 12 years ago.

“At that moment in time, I was with Graham Walker as a coach, and I think Graham was still coaching Danny Willett at the time – but one other of Graham’s students Paul Waring was there, and Paul looked after me a little bit.

“Once I got settled in, it wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, I missed the cut but it was a very daunting week. I played with Jaco van Zyl and David Horsey.

“He (Horsey) had to babysit me on the flight back because I didn’t really fly much, and it was Schiphol airport which was massive. I clung on to him and he showed me which way to go. I don’t think he remembers it though!”

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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