by Jeff Skinner
Olin Browne achieved a career milestone yesterday as he outlasted Mark O’Meara down the stretch to win the U.S. Senior Open. It was Brown’s first major win at any level and his first win since 2005.
Browne is the epitome of the “journeyman” golfer on The PGA Tour with three wins before this victory and a career of ups and downs. His game is more suited to the shorter courses on the Champions Tour and this week he kept his nerves in check for this wire to wire victory. “I was jumpy today. I told my wife this morning that my stomach was churning a little bit, and as much as I tried to settle down, I guess it carried over because I couldn’t play a lick on the front nine. But I knew that if I stayed patient that I could settle into the round and find a way to be there at the end. I didn’t know if I was going to win, but — I didn’t know if I was going to end up being a winner.”
A journeyman no longer, he has the sure formula to win at a USGA event,” It’s about putting your ball in play, keeping it out of the junk. I made one double this week because I hit it under a tree. I didn’t hit it under any trees today, even though I didn’t drive it like I like. And the bottom line is minimize your mistakes, maximize your effort, and that’s all you can do.”
Browne started with a two shot lead but fell into a tie with Mark O’Meara at the fourth hole and the two were tied as late as the twelfth hole. It was match play from there and Brown played par golf until the eighteenth as O’Meara slipped two back with a pair of bogeys. His 30 foot birdie putt while exciting was almost anti-climatic if you can say that about a clinching putt in a major championship.
Brown was lucky to be there at the end as he couldn’t find a fairway all day and only hit seven of fifteen. He was able to get the ball to the green where his putter was working just fine. “I couldn’t hit a fairway on the front nine, and I was struggling the whole nine. I didn’t hit the fairway on 8, and I didn’t hit the fairway on my lay-up and I barely hit the green with my third and then three-whacked it. It was just a difficult day for me. Then I got — settled down, made a bunch of pars until I made a putt on 18.”
A few things struck me about Browne and the play at the U.S. Senior Open. First, was the camaraderie that the players show to one another.
Browne and O’Meara played together on Saturday and Sunday and they both were very complimentary of each other not just after the round but during the round. They were quick with a “nice shot” or high five throughout their rounds. That is one of the big differences on The Senior Tour, the players seem to be a bit more gracious towards one another than players on The PGA Tour. Browne and O’Meara looked to be having fun with each other out there.
Another thought that popped into my head was: what do you think the odds were that Olin Browne would win a tournament before Rickie Fowler, his daughter’s boyfriend. Yes, Rickie is dating Olin’s daughter, so do you think maybe the subject ever came up around the dinner table? You could have got some great odds on that one. I bet Browne may have put a little cash on Rickie. I guess you never know in this game.