Brown wins SAIL Open golf, Randhawa second

February 23rd, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

Noida, Feb 23 (IANS) A little over a year after being inspired to return to competitive golf by the kids he had been teaching for three years following a frustrating career, Mark Brown turned his fortune around with a four-shot win at the SAIL Open 2008 at the Jaypee Greens Saturday. Shooting his fourth successive sub-par round of three-under 69 with four birdies against one bogey, the 33-year-old Brown, who has never headed through the day, aggregated 14-under 274 for his maiden Asian Tour title in this township on the outskirts of the capital. That fetched him a handy cheque of $63,400 and a full exemption till the end of 2010.

Tied for second were a patchy Jyoti Randhawa (71), who admitted to losing focus midway though the round, Australian Scott Hend (72) and Korean Noh Seung-yul (69), all of whom finished 10-under 278.

On more than one occasion Randhawa came one shot off Brown, but was unable to bridge the gap. By the finish the Indian had dropped a shot each on 16th and 17th.

Another player close on the heels of Brown was Australian Scott Hend, who was within one shot from the 13th to the 18th tee. But, he smashed his tee drive into the water hazard and then after a drop went into a greenside bunker to end with a double bogey.

Indians, who have had three top-10 finishers in each of the last two events - Emaar-MGF Indian Masters and the Astro Enjoy Indonesia Open - almost repeated that feat with Gaganjeet Bhullar (72) tying for fifth and Ashok Kumar (71) ending tied 11th following a bogey-bogey finish.

Sharing the fifth place with Bhullar was Danny Chia (72) at nine-under, while the foursome of Ross Bain (68), Guido Van der Walk (68), Kane Webber (72) and Adam Groom (73) were tied for seventh at eight-under 280.

Brown, who started his golfing journey in windy Wellington and plied his trade on the Australasian and then Canadian tours, finally found his moment in India, where his last two visits had fetched him decent finishes. He was fifth at the Hero Honda Indian Open and then 35th at the Indian Masters.

“I was nervous when I started. A one shot lead made me feel everybody was chasing me. And then right through the last few holes, I had just a one shot lead,” said Brown. But by the time he finished others had withered.

With Hend out of the race, Brown stood on a 10-foot putt for a final birdie. “I just wanted to get close and tap in for par, but it just went in,” said the ecstatic Brown.

Randhawa, who began the day two behind Brown, never really mounted the expected challenge. “I was losing focus and it was patchy, off and on,” said Randhawa. “But I am taking this as a preparation for next week (Johnnie Walker) and I hope it works.”

Randhawa got his first birdie of the day on par-5 second but gave that away on the seventh only to pick up another birdie on ninth to turn in one-under.

The birdie on the tenth - he had at least a birdie on each of the four days at this short par-4, where he was coming close to the green with his drive - gave him a chance again with the gap down to one. But his up-and-down routine continued as he dropped a shot on 11th.

But, birdies on 12th and again 15th saw him give Brown a nervous time once more. On the 16th, faced with a difficult shot, Randhawa took a chance and went for a small gap and hit the tree resulting in a bogey. That took his focus away and another bogey on 17th ended his efforts for a sixth Asian Tour win at home.

Bhullar was another one expected to challenge for the title. But it never materialised. His roller coaster round with six birdies, four bogeys and one double saw him end at 72 and stay at nine-under for the tournament.

Hend, playing alongside Brown posed the biggest challenge. On most occasions and in particular over the back nine he was just one behind, except at the 13th tee, soon after Brown birdied the 12th to go 13-under, while Hend was 11-under.

Hend picked a birdie on the 13th and thereafter till the time he found water on the 18th, the gap was just one. “I was very nervous as he was very close. But then he went into water,” said Brown.

“It was so emotional. I was remembering my father, who passed away four years ago. I wish he were here to see me win,” said a wistful Brown, who plays Johnnie Walker Classic next week and then goes to Malaysia and Korea to continue his challenge.

But from now on, Brown has the comfort of choosing where he wants to play in Asia for the next three years.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sports |