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Notes: Job security a 'big deal'; Horses for courses

Scott Brown
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FT. WORTH, TX - MAY 28: : Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the 2010 Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Country Club on May 28, 2010 in Ft. Worth, Texas (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)  - 

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Scott Brown feels as if he grew up at Augusta National.

He stayed with his grandfather, whose house was about a half-mile away from one of the main gates to the home of The Masters. They had season badges, and Brown for years camped out behind the 16th green. He missed out on the U-turn chip by Tiger Woods that hung on the lip for a second and dropped in 2005.

''That was the first year I didn't go,'' he said. ''I was old enough to realize those galleries were so big that I couldn't see anything.''

Then again, that was the first year Brown was invited to play Augusta National, one week before the 2005 Masters.

So if anyone had reason to be disappointed that not every PGA Tour victory comes with an invitation to the Masters, it would be the 29-year-old Brown.

But he's not.

''It doesn't bother me,'' Brown said Tuesday. ''If I play well, that gets me in what I want to get in. It's a freedom thing for me. Job security is a big deal.''

Brown was hoping to get into a playoff Sunday in the Puerto Rico Open when he was one shot behind Fabian Gomez playing the par-5 18th, with Gomez in the fairway. What happened next is still hard for him to believe. Gomez hit into an awkward spot in the bunker, flew over the green into another bunker and made bogey. Brown laced a 3-iron to just short of the green, chipped up to 4 feet and made the birdie putt to win.

Augusta National doesn't give invitations to winners of Tour events held the same week as a major or World Golf Championship.

Playing in the Masters is still his dream. His job is reality.

Brown was 148th on the money list a year ago in his first season on Tour. With a short season, he figured he would be playing on the Tour this year, except that he already was in Chile for a event and Puerto Rico was on the way home.

Even playing the final hole, he felt he had nothing to lose. Second place wouldn't offer enough FedEx Cup points to qualify for the playoffs.

Now, his year has taken a dramatic change.

He is playing this week at the Tampa Bay Championship, next week at Bay Hill and the week after the Masters at Hilton Head. He's also in The Players Championship in May and makes his major debut - unless he qualifies for the U.S. Open - at the PGA Championship in August.

''It's a relief more than anything, knowing you can win out here,'' Brown said.

HORSES FOR COURSES: With his two-shot win at the Cadillac Championship, Tiger Woods now has won 40 times - or 53 percent of his PGA Tour wins - on seven courses.

Exactly what that means is a matter of interpretation.

One might suggest Woods only plays well on the golf courses he likes, which would not make him different from many other players. Phil Mickelson has won 19 of his 41 titles on the West Coast Swing. Mark O'Meara won nearly one-third of his titles at Pebble Beach.

Then again, Woods has won 27 percent of all his PGA Tour events, meaning he wins at an absurd rate, and he wins anywhere when he's playing well.

While he is a five-time winner at Muirfield Village, Woods once went five straight times without winning the Memorial. He won for the fourth time at Doral on Sunday, but he had not been in serious contention the last four times he played. Woods also is a four-time winner at Augusta National. He has not won his last seven tries.

ZACH GOES GLOBAL: Zach Johnson will lose a distinction in May when he plays the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea. Johnson in the only American from the top 50 in the world ranking who has not played anywhere overseas except the British Open over the last two years.

And he was aware of that.

''I haven't gone overseas that much,'' Johnson said. ''It fits in my schedule. It's a good opportunity and I want to do more of it. I don't want to be labeled as the guy who won't leave the country. For one, it's inaccurate.''

Johnson has had plenty of chances, especially after his 2007 win at the Masters. His son was 3 months old when he won his first major, and he had another son in the summer of 2010 and a third child last November. The time to travel was at the end of the year when he was tired and wanted to be with his family.

''It's never really meshed with my schedule,'' he said. ''I'm taking Charlotte (Quail Hollow) off for the first time, so I'll go to Korea.''

Johnson said the one European Tour event he has always wanted to play is the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

''But it's the same week as Colonial, and I can't not play there,'' he said. Johnson is defending this year at Colonial, a tournament he has won twice.

AUSSIE MASTERS: The Australian Masters typically is played on the sand belt courses of Melbourne, perhaps the finest stretch of golf courses in any city in the world. It gets even better this year by celebrating its 35th anniversary by going to the composite course at Royal Melbourne for the first time.

Royal Melbourne has hosted the Presidents Cup twice, and it formerly had the Heineken Classic, where Ernie Els won.

The Australian Masters most recently has been held at Kingston Heath and Victoria.

IMG is running the tournament, and said it was committed to bring at least three of the top 25 players in the world.

PADRAIG'S SPECS: Padraig Harrington has been wearing glasses for the last month, and now he's wearing them on the golf course. The most peculiar part of this look is that the three-time major champion technically doesn't even need glasses.

''I've got 20/20 vision without glasses,'' he said. ''But I have struggled for a number of years with reading the greens. What I see and what it is are not the same thing.''

Harrington's eyes are too dry to wear contact lenses, so he's opted for eye glasses. He was on his fifth pair at Doral, and he's getting closer to the right frame.

The trouble for Harrington is that he grew up with a slight right-to-left bias with how he reads. After a number of laser surgeries, his bias is now left-to-right.

''I'll wear them all the time to relax my eyes,'' Harrington said. ''Your eyes change as you get older, and certainly mine have. This is better to read the greens. Because if you can't read the greens, it leads to indecision. And indecision leads to bad putting.''

DIVOTS: The women's world ranking, which began in 2006, now has added players from the Ladies European Tour Access Series and the China LPGA Tour into its list. The addition will create more opportunities for golfers around the world to qualify for the Olympics in 2016. ... James Dodson was won the USGA's Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for ''American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf.'' Dodson also won the award in 2004 for a book on Hogan. ... Brian Gay is the only player to compete in every Tampa Bay Championship since the tournament began in 2000. His best finish is a tie for fourth in 2007.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Lee Westwood dropped out of the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since October 2009.

INFLATED STAT OF THE WEEK: Steve Stricker has made $1.82 million in three tournaments this year. Arnold Palmer made $1,861,857 in 734 career tournaments.

FINAL WORD: ''When a course is short, they end up having tricky pin positions. This is what we'll all be worried about at Merion. We prefer a big, solid golf course made easier rather than a short golf course made trickier.'' - Padraig Harrington.