Browne decompressing after biggest career win

By August 3, 2011, 6:18 pm

For Olin Browne, the U.S. Senior Open was the penultimate stop of a long, long road trip. Naturally, Browne did not arrive fully expecting to win his first major championship and Champions Tour title.

“To play on my 11th week on the road, you would think it would be time for a collapse, but I managed to keep my composure and stay the course,” Browne said of his win at Inverness in a Tuesday telephone interview.

Success began for Browne on Tuesday of Senior Open week, when he got a tip from fellow player Michael Allen about his posture. He was still trying to figure it out before tournament week began Thursday, but it clicked in time to help Browne mostly with his putting.

“I was bent at the waist with my putter and I got over my line really well. My arms worked really well with my stroke,” Browne said. The result was a single three-putt for the week.

“Overall for the week, on a course like that with greens like that, if you can get through a week with one three-putt, that’s pretty great.”

The lone blemish came on the eighth hole of Sunday’s final round. Browne said it was a push – nay, a shove – of an effort, but that dropped shot to the field did not distract him from his goal.

“I knew even though Mark (O’Meara) and Calc (Mark Calcavecchia) were making runs and Peter Senior got to 11 under at one point, I knew they were all going to have to face that difficult stretch of holes on the back nine. And the tournament was going to come to how we played that stretch of holes,” he said.

Eight pars and a birdie later – better than his competition – Browne had won the first major of his career. The D.C. native, though, did not feel certain the title was his until the 71st hole.

“There was no indication I was going to win that tournament until I made that second putt on 17. Then I knew I just had to get it in the fairway on 18.”

The lone birdie on the back nine came on the last hole, a 35-footer to secure the title and end his two-day battle with O’Meara. The two played together on the weekend, which was especially helpful for Browne in the third round.

“We both played really well on Saturday. It was fun coming down the back nine. He shot 3 under, I shot 5 under. We just fed off one another on the back nine,” he said.

In the final round, Browne expected O’Meara to strike early – and he did. Two birdies in the first four holes nodded a contest that quickly became a match-play situation. Despite losing the advantage early in the day, Browne stuck to his focus on getting to the back nine with a chance to win by keeping the ball in play.

“I struggled off the tee with my driver. I missed by a little, not by much, but my game plan was to play as solidly as I could from tee-to-green. In doing that, I knew I would give myself enough birdie opportunities to make a few of them. But it didn’t pan out that way [early] because I couldn’t hit the fairway,” he said.

In the final tally, the plan obviously paid off for Browne though he fell a shot shy of his goal on the first tee.

“I knew that if I shot an under-par round on Sunday, it would be pretty hard to catch me,” he said. “Now it didn’t work out that way because the golf course changed and it became very difficult.”

There may have been some nerves from sleeping on the lead, but Browne has been in form for much of the season. He says it was a help to be in the mix through the year.

“I had a goal this year. I wanted to be more relevant in more tournaments. I opened the year with a bunch of top-10s. That was a good way to start the year. Last year, I only had three top-10s,” he said. “The more you’re in contention, the more comfortable you get with it, more chances you get to hoist the trophy.”

The win is a dream fulfilled for Browne and his wife, Pam, who spent years on the range together practicing for the moment he faced on Sunday. A drive, an approach shot, a putt for the U.S. Open.

“It’s kind of overwhelming really. It was great she was there. And it was specifically the U.S. Open we dreamed about – I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the driving range.

“This is the kind of thing that has more legs than I imagined. I probably won’t know what it means to me for a good while.”

It may take a while to sink in for Browne because he won’t have time to let it. The season rolls on, especially with a look at one more major in two weeks.

“We have a whole week off next week, then another major after that at Westchester for the Senior Players,” Browne said. “And that’s a course that’s reasonably similar to [Inverness], so I’ve got to maintain my energy and keep my enthusiasm up. We’ve got some good tournaments coming up, with eight more to go. So I’m not ready to totally decompress, hide out in the Keys just yet.”

Browne knows he has to strike while he’s young, relative to his peers. The Champions Tour is not a 30-year jaunt.

“I made a more of a mental and emotional commitment to playing better this year,” he said.

“It’s a very obvious, finite window out here – 5 to 10 years long. I don’t want to look back when I’m 65 and wonder what could have been.”

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

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While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm