Browne pulls out victory at Boston
NORTON, Mass. — Despite failing to keep his PGA Tour card the last two years, Olin Browne never doubted he could still compete with the best players. Now, he has a victory to show for it, closing with a 4-under-par 67 on Monday to win the Deutsche Bank Classic.
Browne emerged from a five-way tie for the lead to build a three-shot advantage on the back nine. And with Jason Bohn closing fast, he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to restore his cushion.
Bohn needed an eagle on the par-5 18th to force a playoff, but his fairway metal from the right rough sailed to the right of the green, and his chip never had a chance. Bohn settled for a birdie and a 68 to finish one shot behind.
“It’s been so long,” said Browne, who won for the first time since the 1999 Colonial. “I’m speechless.”
Browne finished at 14-under 270 and earned $990,000, more than he had made in any of his 11 previous years on the PGA Tour. More importantly, it gave the 46-year-old Browne a two-year exemption on tour.
He has been scrapping by the last two years after heartbreak endings to his season kept him out of the top 125 on the money list. Browne had to write letters to tournament directors asking for exemptions, or getting into the lower-ranked events that had room in the field.
“The amount of times you play is irrelevant,” he said earlier in the week. “It’s how you play when you get in.”
He was at his best on the TPC of Boston, especially on Labor Day.
Browne kept the ball in the fairway and on the greens, and kept his mind from wandering. The reward was sweeter than he could imagine, especially after he decided to rebuild his swing last year with Houston swing coach Jim Hardy, a risky decision for someone in the twilight of his career.
Bohn, who won the B.C. Open in July, also showed his mettle, bouncing back from back-to-back bogeys by giving himself a chance on the last hole.
Reno-Tahoe Open champion Vaughn Taylor shot a 68 to finish third at 10-under 274. Charles Howell III had a 67 and joined three others who finished another shot behind.
Tiger Woods, the first-round leader, was never a factor over the final three days. He shot 71 to tie for 40th.
The five-way tie for the lead going into the last round was the biggest since the 1983 Colonial, and with 16 others within two shots of the lead, it seemed certain to come down to the final holes.
And it did — but only Browne and Bohn were left standing.
Hometown favorite Billy Andrade fell apart with a double bogey when he hit into the water on No. 6 and had a 41 on the front nine. John Rollins shot 40 on the front nine to also disappear. Carl Petterson slowly tumbled from contention, unable to make birdies as Brown and Bohn surged ahead.
No one from back in the pack made a move, least of all Woods.
After opening with a 65 to take a one-shot lead, the world’s No. 1 player never broke par the rest of the way. He closed with a 71 to tie for 40th, ending his streak at seven straight finishes in the top 5. All that mattered was getting out of town and onto his boat for a week of vacation.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t care right now,” Woods said. “I’m done. I’ve had a very long summer. I haven’t taken hardly any days off this summer, so it will be nice to actually get some time off and let my mind and body just kind of heal.”
Browne and Bohn separated themselves by making birdies on both par 5s, picking up another birdie along the way and avoiding mistakes. Bohn blinked first.
He pushed his tee shot on the ninth so far to the right it wound up in a hazard, and he had to get up-and-down left of the green to limit the damage to bogey. Then he went over the 10th green, chipped past the hole onto the fringe and made another bogey.
Browne suddenly had a three-shot lead, after hitting a beautiful draw into 6 feet on the 10th for birdie, and chipping perfectly from a shaggy, downhill lie behind the 11th green, down the ridge to 5 feet to save par.
His only bogey came from a fairway bunker on the 15th, but he was solid the rest of the way. He now can plan his own schedule the two years, starting with a trip to Kapalua for winners-only Mercedes Championships in January.