*William Hyndman, III Player of the Year standings
Brown edges Farrow on 41st hole for 106th Open ChampionshipHUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa.–Morning turned into afternoon and eventually night, before amateur Michael Brown of Lookaway GC secured the 106th Open Championship on a sweltering and sticky Wednesday at Philmont CC’s treacherous North Course (par 70, 6,665 yards). Brown, patient and determined throughout, parred the 41st hole at 8:40 p.m. to outlast professional Greg Farrow of Deerwood CC more than 13 hours after the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s third oldest championship started.
Brown and Farrow finished the 36 holes of regulation at 2-over-par 142 and found themselves tied once again at the conclusion of the four-hole aggregate playoff at 1 over (Holes 1-2-17-18). A sudden-death playoff under the moonlight immediately ensued.
Brown, who later said he had a comparable putt earlier in the day, somehow, someway cozied his birdie try up to a foot. “I really couldn’t see but I couldn’t hit a better putt,” said Brown. Farrow, with a chance for the win, charged his effort a bit and watched the right-to-left breaker rim out on the high side. Staring at three feet from the other direction, Farrow’s follow-up, shockingly, since the quality of play was strong considering the difficult conditions, came up short and left. “I miss-hit it and didn’t hit it hard enough,” Farrow said of the second putt. “I hit a good first putt and probably if it ran by two feet it would have gone right in. I caught a lot of the hole and it spun it a little bit.”
The victory by Brown marked only the 13th time an amateur has captured the Open Championship. Mark Miller of Yardley CC was the last amateur to do so in 2007. In all, only seven individual Amateur players have won the tournament. Jay Sigel heads that group with six victories.
“I’m surprised to say the least. Philadelphia has some of the strongest players in the country and to be playing against the pros and for an amateur to win …. it’s not likely,” said Brown, 37, of Cheltenham, Pa. “I’m pleasantly surprised. I knew I could win it, but I’m surprised.”
“I’m still playing well and it seems to be getting better and better,” said Farrow when asked of his age. “That’s what makes golf so great. To everybody out there, keep playing and keep trying.”
Brown and Farrow did that and then some.
In the end, it was a fantastic duel to see who would blink first and not last.
The four-hole aggregate playoff provided a prime example of that.
The two recorded benign pars on No. 1 before the methodical Brown moved a stroke ahead on No. 2 (par 4, 415 yards) when he converted a tremendously delicate up-and-down from the right greenside rough. Farrow carded a bogey on the hole with an 8-iron from 147 yards that bounced off the back of the putting surface. The unforced error resulted in a long birdie try from the back fringe that stopped three feet short and his ensuing par effort rolled by the edge.
The third playoff hole was No. 17 (par 3, 202 yards), a graveyard for many Open contenders on this day. It offered a long carry into a green with a severe back-to-front slope and a difficult top-right hole location. Brown, up first, and like he did in the second round when he entered the 17th with a one-shot lead, hit his 5-iron into the right, front greenside bunker. Farrow, seeing Brown blink, rocketed a 3-iron onto the left portion of the green 25 feet from the cup. Brown escaped the sand but couldn’t avoid bogey. Farrrow rolled his initial try up to three feet and saved par to tie Brown yet again.
On No. 18 (par 4, 340 yards), both players recorded solid drives and wedge shots that flew long of the hole but in makeable territory. Farrrow had 30 feet remaining and Brown 20 feet, both downhill and bending a bit right-to-left. Both gave it the old college try, but left the 40th hole of the day the same place they started, deadlocked.
In regulation, Farrow finished his 36 holes approximately two hours before Brown, following up a spectacular morning-round 68 with a Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish 74. Farrow opened his second and final round with five bogeys in his first six holes before getting his groove back on No. 13 (par 4, 318 yards). He hit a lob wedge from 80 yards to three feet and made the birdie. On No. 14 (par 4, 488 yards), Farrow knocked a 3-iron on for his approach and drained a 30 footer. He would finish with four straight pars.
Brown, too, had his share of hiccups coming home. He made the turn on his front nine for Round 2 at 2 over before registering four birdies, four bogeys and one par on his inward side. After sandwiching two bogeys between birdies, Brown bogeyed No. 14 (par 4, 488 yards) from 60 feet after three-putting from the far left portion of the green to fall back to 3 over. His chances seemed in trouble with a quartet of challenging holes remaining. However, Brown responded in grand style, draining a 40-footer for birdie on No. 15 (par 4, 401 yards) and on No. 16 (par 4, 453 yards) knocking a pitching wedge from 143 yards to inches. He entered No. 17 at the top of the leaderboard, but as previously stated, found the right greenside bunker and could manage only bogey.
This was Brown’s second Golf Association of Philadelphia Major title. He won the 2009 Middle-Amateur Championship at Tavistock CC, ironically, in a four-hole playoff.
Farrow, though losing the title, was still the low professional and took home the $6,000 top prize.