Deaf amateur finishes tied second in Germany
The German, who has just 5 percent of his hearing and has relied on hearing aids for almost all of his life, shot a final-round 67 — the best score of the day — to finish in a three-way tie for second behind winner Richard McEvoy.
“The atmosphere out there, the people that have been walking with me the 18 holes, it’s just an incredible feeling,” John told reporters after his round Sunday.
The 30-year-old finished ahead of several big names in a star-studded field, which included 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and rising American star Bryson DeChambeau.
John was playing in Hamburg on a sponsor’s invitation, but had to forfeit his €170,000 ($198,500) paycheck given his amateur status.
He started the fourth round seven shots adrift but four birdies on his final nine holes took him into a share of the lead as others faltered.
“It was quite cool, and when I was on 18 I saw the leader board and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m pretty much in contention,'” he said. “It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
John originally turned pro in 2011 and competed on the Challenge Tour — Europe’s second-tier tour — the following year, before regaining his amateur status in 2016.
He competed for Germany at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics, winning the sport’s inaugural gold medal for his country.
His performance in Hamburg has left John contemplating another try at turning pro.
“There’s a lot of self confidence I can take out of the tournament, being in contention, finishing second,” he said.
“That’s a pretty amazing feeling and gives me a lot of confidence in the abilities that I can do on a golf course.”
285th time lucky
The man who eventually scuppered John’s dream of victory on home soil was 39-year-old journeyman McEvoy.
Perhaps nobody on Tour embodies the mantra “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again” than the Englishman.
Since turning pro 17 years ago, McEvoy has plied his trade between the Challenge Tour and European Tour.
Before Sunday he had won three titles on the Challenge Tour but victory at the highest level had eluded him.
On 12 separate occasions McEvoy has attended the European Tour Qualifying School — the annual qualifying event that gives pro golfers a chance to earn a place on the European Tour — but he retained his Tour card just twice.
McEvoy carried over the confidence from winning his third second-tier title last week in Normandy to become the first golfer since 2010 to win back-to-back Challenge Tour and European Tour titles.
“It’s incredible,” McEvoy told reporters. “I’ve waited a long time — 17 years as a pro on and off the Tour. A lot of bad years, a lot of good years but it had never quite happened.
“This was my time. I fought hard, I believed and even at the last I overpowered my caddie to lay it up to give myself the best opportunity to make birdie.”
McEvoy won his maiden title in style, holing a 20-foot putt for birdie on the 18th to earn a one-stroke victory over John, Renato Paratore and Christofer Blomstrand.
Victory moves McEvoy inside the world’s top 150 and, perhaps more importantly, gives him the peace of mind of a a two-year exemption on Tour.
The winner’s check of $394,000 isn’t too bad either.