Browne Holds Off O’Meara For US Senior Open Title

Photo courtesy of WWW.USGA.ORG No other use is permitted.
Olin Browne Celebrates After His 2011 US Senior Open Victory

lin Browne won the 2011 US Senior Open, holing a thirty foot birdie put on eighteen to finish at fifteen under, even par for the day. He finished three shots ahead of Mark O’Meara.

Browne and O’Meara battled closely all day long. Browne played even par through seven, then lost a shot to a three putt on the par five eighth.  He played par golf from eight through seventeen before the bird at the last. With Browne’s even performance, O’Meara had his chances. He caught up with Browne with a birdie on four, lost one to a three putt on five, and then got back into the tie on six. One more shot slipped away when he missed the green on thirteen, lobbed his recovery well past the hole and then two putted.

The tournament really was over on the sixteenth, though. At that point, O’Meara was just one shot back at 13 under. Both players hit the fairway: O’Meara was on the right third; Browne in the middle. From 200 or so out, Browne hit the upper shelf of the green where the flag was located. O’Meara hit a fat shot that traveled only about halfway to the hole. That miscue was followed up with an uphill pitch that also was short. From there, it was two putts to a bogey. Browne, on the other hand, hit a putt close, then tapped in for a par.

That two shot swing was enough.

It’s interesting that in spite of all the criticism of how “easy” the course played, the eventual winner managed to play even par golf on the last day. The course wasn’t a strikeout, but neither was it a walk. I agree with Hal Sutton’s comments earlier this weekend that Inverness would make a great location for a Ryder Cup. With the parallel fairways and very short tee to green distance, the course could generate a lot of electricity.

For a guy who had just won his first Major, Browne was exceedingly calm during the press interviews afterwards. He spoke of being nervous on the front nine and being unable to hit a good drive.

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. But I knew if I was in the lead or somewhere near the lead on the back nine that there was going to be all kinds of stuff happening.  It’s just too hard a nine holes of golf.  I just did the very best that I could.  I hit as many what’s the word I’m looking for—functional shots, to stay in it, not lose my patience and not start doing stupid stuff.

And then 16 is for me the hardest hole because the wind is coming in the wrong direction for the shot I like to play, and I just   I had to hit a quality tee shot, and it was the only really good tee shot I hit all day until that point, and then I hit another good one on 17.

It was just a hard day and I’m very pleased to have gotten through it.

That sort of exceedingly calm demeanor is probably just what’s needed to win a USGA championship, though: focus on the shot; don’t get ahead of yourself. Browne said:

The point to this championship is that if you start wandering mentally, it’s curtains; it’s over.  And the thing that this championship does, whether it’s this one or the U.S. Open or any of the USGA events is it narrows your focus, and you’d better show up for the shot that you’re hitting.  And if you start worrying about other stuff, you’re going to have a problem.

That’s actually good advice for everyone.

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