Brown surges to Classic win
Not one to rest on past laurels, Mark Brown is a firm believer in the proverb "a new day is a new beginning". After finishing a stroke shy of leader Taichiro Kiyota on Saturday, the Kiwi was reminded about two high points in his chequered career -his first triumph of the year at the SAIL Open and beating Tiger Woods as an amateur in the 1994 Eisenhower Cup. Pat came the reply, "The win last week helped as far as taking pressure off being on the Asian Tour and has made it a relaxing week. The win against Tiger was a long time ago and didn't mean anything then and now."
What was crucial for Brown was clinging on to the belief imbibed in him by coach Mal Tongue that "his game would hold under pressure".
After keeping together his craft and nerve in the final holes at the Jaypee Greens, Brown showed that his skill had indeed come of age by replicating the feat on a platform as substantial as the Johnnie Walker Classic.
Last week's experience was one that Brown drew heavily from on Sunday. "I had a one shot lead in the last round and played really well. I told myself if I could play solid again, I'd have a shot," he said and added "the open course (Jaypee Greens) gave confidence to my drive and I was surprised despite the tightness of the course here, the drive held on."
Brown had to wait for his place under the sun. The last to tee off with Kiyota at the DLF Golf and Country Club, it was a far from impressive start even as Johan Edfors and Scott Strange caught the fancy with their blazing stroke play on the greens. But the pretenders to the throne soon make way for the actual contenders to battle it out.
While Kiyota was his steady self and remained sole leader till the 11th with a 17-under, Brown came into his own soon after. "On the 10th tee (till then he had dropped two shots) I told myself let's play some solid nine holes and try and hit some fairways and greens." Lo! Four consecutive birdies between 12-15th had him sharing the top perch.
The pressure was intense and the first casualty was Strange, who dropped back with a bogey on the 16th. Pitted against Kiyota's discipline, Brown did his bit by returning two par rounds and allowed the enormity of the occasion get the better of the Japanese by forcing him to drop a shot on the penultimate.
Going on the 18th with a two-stroke lead, the matter seemed resolved but Brown's second shot threatened to throw the tournament open once again. "It was the worst shot I'd hit since I was 14!, but luckily I had plenty of club and it just scraped over and was quite a relief," said Brown after finishing with a birdie.
In the end "it was holding the nerve and making the putts and birdies count along the way in a difficult game", something the Indians failed to do. While Shiv Kapur ended with a joint fifth at 14-under, Jyoti Randhawa settled for a 13-under at eighth while Jeev Milkha Singh finished 11-under at tied 11th.
As someone who had quit golf because he "wasn't good enough", the euro 276,387.23 prize money and an exemption on the European Tour is still a blur. For the moment, Brown's happy to have lived up to his late father's philosophy, "If you try long and hard enough, you'll succeed".
270 - Mark Brown (NZL) 71-68-64-67
273 - Greg Chalmers (AUS) 68-69-68-68, Taichiro Kiyota (JPN) 68-67-67-71, Scott Strange (AUS) 71-67-68-67
274 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 71-69-69-65, Shiv Kapur (IND) 69-65-72-68, Graeme Storm (ENG) 70-66-69-69
275 - Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 70-65-68-72
276 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 74-65-70-67, Daniel Vancsik (ARG) 67-71-68-70
277 - Scott Barr (AUS) 71-70-67-69, Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 69-67-73-68, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-70-70-69
278 - Marcus Fraser (AUS) 71-68-71-68, Soren Hansen (DEN) 69-69-71-69, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 70-67-72-69
279 - Phillip Archer (ENG) 72-64-69-74, Arjun Atwal (IND) 69-72-67-71, Tony Carolan (AUS) 71-69-68-71, Mark Foster (ENG) 68-74-67-70, Scott Laycock (AUS) 72-68-68-71, Vijay Singh (IND) 70-68-69-72, Kane Webber (AUS) 73-69-66-71, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-70-68-70