Brown hits purple patch by winning Johnnie Walker Classic golf

March 2nd, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by admin  

(Night Lead)
By V. Krishnaswamy
Gurgaon, March 2 (IANS) Two wins in two weeks on Asian and European Tour events may well have altered New Zealander Mark Brown’s life, which 18 months ago was not good enough to convince him to return to professional golf. On Sunday, he wrapped up a brilliant win at the Johnnie Walker Classic to follow up on the SAIL Open last week, and though the enormity of his achievement will take some time to sink in, the soft-spoken Kiwi did remark in jest: “Maybe I should move in here (India).”

Brown brought home a five-under 67 that gave him a total of 18-under 270 and win by three shots over the trio of Taichiro Kiyota (71), Scott Strange (67) and Greg Chalmers (68), all of whom finished at 15-under 273.

It was Brown’s third top-10 in four starts in India and he gave a lot of credit to his local caddie, Munna, who has been with him all through.

India’s best finisher was flu-hit Shiv Kapur, who very nearly pulled out at the start of week but then roared into contention midway through. His birdie-birdie finish got him a 68 for a total of 14-under 274 and his first top-10 of the year in tied fifth place.

Kapur said: “”If someone had told me at the start of the week that I would shoot 14-under I would have laughed, but golf is a funny game. Still it feels great to have a high finish.”

Yet having come through the illness, he added: “I can’t say I’m satisfied as you always say you can do better. But it’s a bit of a redemption from the Indian Masters. It’s nice that I came out to play well and I had a chance to win. Only if you win, you can be satisfied. How I finished, feels good. I feel my game is in the right direction and that week will come around. I’m happy but not satisfied.”

Behind him in sole eighth was Jyoti Randhawa, who after being in contention at various points, faltered with a double bogey on fifth, but still stayed in grinding out two birdies on the back nine for a 72 that put him at 13-under 275. It was his third successive top-10 finish and fourth of the year in seven starts.

“Well, I am happy that I am contending, and hopefully a win is closer. As for rankings, I don’t think much, I just need to play golf and I am working on a few things,” said Randhawa, who continues his marathon playing streak as he travels to Malaysia and Korea making it nine weeks on the trot.

Jeev Milkha Singh could not get his putter going for the whole week, but the final day was still better than others as he turned in a 69 and finished at 11-under 277 for tied 11th.

“I could not come to terms with the grainy greens, but I am hitting the ball well. As for the smile coming back, well the week is over and it wasn’t too bad,” he said with elicited mixed feelings for Jeev.

“It is good to finish high, but I left quite a few shots out there. I could not come to terms with the grainy greens and also missed a few short ones.”

Atwal (71) was tied 17th at nine-under 279. Playing on the European Tour after a gap of five years, it was Atwal’s third top-20 finish in as many starts after his 15th place in Indian Masters and 10th at Indonesia Open.

The other Indians were Rahil Gangjee (72) in tied 30th at seven-under, Mukesh Kumar (75) 44th at four-under 284, Arjun Singh (75) 53rd at one-under, Gaganjeet Bhullar (74) 58th at even par, Digvijay Singh (78) 63rd at three-over 291 and Rahul Ganapathy (77) 64th at five-over 293.

Brown got down to the task at hand only on the back nine after what he himself termed as a rather “poor front nine”. He found four birdies in a row from 12th to 15th, but all that paled into significance in the light of his dramatic second shot on the 18th. The two wins have virtually turned Brown’s life around.

The final round had an amazing number of twists and turns. Brown actually came into the reckoning only after the 12th. At the end of the 11th, he was only 13-under and way behind the leaders, Kiyota and Strange in turns.

Before Brown, Kiyota, three-under after seven failed to land any more birdie and in his last 11 holes he bogeyed twice without any birdies.

Strange blew up with two bogeys over last three holes after having been seven-under through 15 holes for the day and Johan Edfors was seven-under after 13 but then the birdies dried up. Chalmers charged up to tie for second with three birdies in last five holes.

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