If I rise up out of the chair upon which I?m sitting right now, go through the door into the living room and, taking care not to trip over my daughter?s laptop, stare out of the French windows that lead onto the Agran Estate, I can just see an oast house on top of a hill in the distance. That in itself would be moderately interesting, but what makes this oast house rather special is that a young man called Ben Evans lives there.
He?s not there right now because he?s in South Africa. Depending upon when you read this, he?s preparing for, playing in or packing up from the Joburg Open. It?s the first European Tour event that he?s played in since turning professional during the Qualifying School in Spain last November. He did very well at San Roque, finished 64th and will be competing mostly on the Challenge Tour this year. In fact, his first event was in Argentina last month where he made the cut, finished 54th and earned a few hundred Euros.
Because we?re more or less neighbours, I have followed his career for some years. He twice won the Faldo World Series and also triumphed in the Sunningdale Foursomes. However, his finest hour so far came when he partnered me in the Press-Am before the Portugal Nations Cup in the Algarve in September. We, in partnership with two other England amateur internationals, crushed 15 other hapless nations that day.
I popped round to see Ben last week to re-live that glorious day and chat about his plans and hopes for the year. He is, of course, just one of dozens of young hopefuls dreaming of golfing glory. But what I particularly like about him is his level-headedness and absence of arrogance, qualities rarely found in those with a handicap anywhere much below, say, five. Incidentally, his last handicap was plus 4.2.
Almost certainly every bit as excited about his prospects as he is, I followed his progress at Q School shot by shot on the European Tour website and am already looking forward to doing the same when he tees off in Johannesburg. If he finishes in the top 10, he will qualify for next week?s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. If that isn?t incentive enough, he knows that I will be there helping to produce a daily newspaper that will be given to spectators.
In the longer term, there is the enormously tantalising prospect that if he were to make it to the top of the Sony World Rankings, this quiet corner of East Sussex will have produced both the greatest golfer and the greatest golf writer. Wow, what a double!