Brownâ€™s birdie barrage leads to Patterson Cup glory
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.â€“Michael R. Brown, Jr. openly talks about the self-doubt associated with his golf game. His self-confidence and self-belief are always at a premium.
In Thursdayâ€™s final round of the 116th Joseph H. Patterson Cup, Brown banished those inner demons, at least temporarily, with a scintillating mid-round move that led to an eventual victory.
Brown carded a second-round 5-under 66 to finish the 36 holes at 4 under, two shots clear of the field. Fellow Lu Lu Country Club mate Mark Farley, too, shot up the leaderboard and, too, posted a final-round 66 to finish second.
It is Brownâ€™s third Golf Association of Philadelphia Major title. He adds the Patterson Cup to victories in the 2009 Middle-Amateur Championship and 2010 Open Championship.
â€śAll golfers question themselves,â€ť said Brown, 45, of Maple Shade, N.J. â€śI feel a lot better now. Having won two of them before, the last one being in 2010, it feels good to be more recent. Iâ€™ve been kind of feeling like the good days were behind me. It seems like itâ€™s harder and harder to win and I feel like itâ€™s harder and harder to play the game as I get older.â€ť
Brown entered the second round five shots behind Day 1 leader Scott McNeil of Bala Golf Club. McNeil carded a 4-under 67 Wednesday.
Brownâ€™s day didnâ€™t start so promising. On No. 1 (par 4, 427 yards), he had to chip out from the right trees with his second shot and would eventually make bogey.
He cancelled that out with a birdie on No. 3 (par 4, 460 yards) thanks to a 164-yard 7-iron that stopped a foot from the hole.
As the leaders struggled, Brown ratcheted up the pressure. He rocketed up the leaderboard by playing holes Nos. 7-12 in 5 under. He went birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-bogey-eagle.
â€śI got a little lucky. I made a 20-foot downhiller for birdie on No. 7 (par 5, 496 yards). I hit it entirely too hard. If it doesnâ€™t go in Iâ€™m going to three-putt most likely,â€ť said the soft-spoken Brown. â€śAfter I made birdie on No. 10, I thought I had a chance to win.
â€śI was hoping opportunistically the eventual winner would be at 4 under. Thatâ€™s what I finished at.â€ť
After No. 7, Brownâ€™s birdies went as so: on No. 8 (par 4, 361 yards) he lifted a wedge 54 yards to five feet; on No. 9 (par 4, 378 yards) he hit a wedge from 97 yards to six feet; on No. 10 (par 4, 414 yards) he ripped a 9-iron from 131 yards to six feet and on No. 12 (par 5, 518 yards) he made eagle when he drained a 25-footer after striping a 5-iron from 197 yards to reach the green in two.
His No. 11 (par 4, 353 yards) bogey blemish came as the result of finding the fairway bunker with his tee ball.
Brown ended his round with five straight pars before converting a short birdie try on No. 18 (par 5, 460 yards) after finding the green in two shots.
â€śIâ€™m a little shocked,â€ť said Brown. â€śI didnâ€™t put myself into the golf tournament until pretty late. There are a lot of good young players and a lot of good older players and itâ€™s really hard to win in Philadelphia. I couldnâ€™t be happier. Itâ€™s a relief as much as a feeling of accomplishment because you would hate to work hard and not be paid off.â€ť
Farley, 22, of Langhorne, Pa., started the day 2:30 hours before the leaders after an opening-round 3-over 74.
â€śI wasnâ€™t really thinking Iâ€™d be in contention for the championship,â€ť said Farley. â€śI just wanted to go out and play a solid, smart round of golf and see where that put me. I was fortunate enough to eagle No. 18 and get to 2-under total. Then it kind of sunk in where I was at overall.â€ť
The Patterson Cup was Farleyâ€™s lone Association appearance this year.
The 2018 Temple University graduate is working at Liberty Mutual in Conshohocken, Pa. and has had little free time.
His prior top Association performance came in the 2015 Patterson Cup at Chester Valley Golf Club, where he tied for 19th.
Brown, the 2010 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, is in position to take that honor again this year.
Even if that fails to materialize, his place within the Golf Association of Philadelphia community is already established.
â€śIn the back of my head, I want to be relevant and part of the conversation [when it comes to top players in Philadelphia],â€ť said Brown. â€śThatâ€™s what motivates me.â€ť
Golf Association of Philadelphia