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Brown earns third career Met Open title

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (August 24, 2016)Mark Brown had his lead trimmed all the way down to just one stroke early on the back nine, but the Tam O’Shanter head professional held steady to fire a final-round 68 at Glen Oaks Club and notch the wire-to-wire victory in the 101st Met Open Championship. Brown’s 4-under 216 tournament total earned him a four-shot victory, besting 19-year old Cameron Young of Sleepy Hollow by four shots.

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“It’s pretty cool to realize I won back in ’99 and here I am in 2016 to win,” remarked the soon-to-be 50-year old Brown following the victory. He also won the 2013 title, just down the road at Old Westbury, and is now just the sixth player in the championship’s famed history to take top honors three times, joining names like Macdonald Smith (1914, 1926, 1931), Walter Hagen (1916, 1919, 1920) and most recently Darrell Kestner (1982, 1983, 1995).

Brown, who started the day with a three-shot advantage, bogied the first, but quickly got back on track with birdies on three of the next seven holes—hitting a six iron close on the par-3 second and making a 40-footer on the par-4 fourth before also putting a circle on the card on the par-4 eighth. He turned in 2-under 33, but had company as Young had put together a charge of his own on the front nine.

Young, who opened the championship with rounds of 70-73, was hot from the start as he birdied the lengthy par-4 first, which played at 480 yards. He took advantage of his length again on the par-5 third and then birdied Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to turn in a blistering 5-under 30. When Brown bogied the par-4 10th, Young stood within just one shot of the lead.

“The last few days I hit a lot of shots to 18 or 20 feet, and today I hit a couple that felt nice and ended up a foot or two,” remarked Young, who notched low amateur honors in the Met Open for the second straight year.

“When it’s going like that, I felt like I didn’t need to,” remarked Young when asked whether he was trying to figure out how close he was to Brown. “One of those days, you might just go shoot 60 and see what happens. It turns out that’s pretty much what I needed to do, which obviously is a tough task out there. I just kept doing what I was doing and trying to play my game.”

While Young was able to creep close, the 315-yard par-4 11th halted momentum as the Wake Forest sophomore bogied the hole following a wayward tee shot and Brown sunk a birdie putt from outside 20 feet to push his lead back to three. Another birdie-bogey swing worked in Young’s favor on the 12th, but Brown bounced back once again with a birdie on the par-5 13th, then added another on the par-4 16th as he was able to shoot up the hill to a back hole location. In the meantime, Young faltered on Nos. 16 and 17 to fall off the pace but ended with a 3-under 67 for the even-par 210 total.

“It was just nice to have opportunities and I kind of gave myself that pretty much all day today,” said Brown, who also had good birdie looks on Nos. 14, 15 and 17 that led to easy pars. “It wasn’t too stressful until I heard Cameron was five-under for the day. But, I just tried to maintain what I’ve done all week—just try to keep the ball in front of me and keep the ball below the hole the best I could.”

Brown once again pointed to his putter and driving iron off the tee as pieces that helped him through each round this week to end as the only player under par. “I made a lot of putts again today,” remarked Brown, who had assistant Josh Rackley on the bag and also serving as a big help on the greens. “Everything felt very comfortable with the putter—my speed was really good and the reads were great, so I felt very confident rolling the ball all week.” The win continues a strong summer for Brown, who was the runner up at the PGA Professional Championship, which earned him a spot in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Brown collected the $27,500 winner's share of the $150,000 total purse at the Met Open.

Mike Miller of Knollwood used his second straight 2-under 68 to climb the leaderboard and finish tied for third at 3-over 213 along with Peter Ballo of Old Oaks, who also fired a final round 68. In all, nine sub-par rounds were recorded on Wednesday, with the course yielding just 17 red scores over the course of the championship.

Mike Ballo, Jr., of Woodway, who played alongside Brown in the final group, fell off the pace with a final round 73 to finish solo fifth at 4-over 214. Brian Mackey of White Beeches matched Young with a 3-under 67, moving into a tie for sixth along with David Pastore of Fairview and Frank Bensel of Century at 5-over 215.

Adam Fuchs of Bethpage tallied the championship-low score of 4-under 66, tying Ryan McCormick of Suburban at 6-over 216 to round out the top 10.

The top 25 finishers are exempt into the 102nd Met Open Championship, set for August 22-24, 2017 at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J.

Glen Oaks Club served as a superb test for the Met Area’s top professionals and amateurs. Players raved about the pristine conditioning provided by golf course superintendent Craig Currier and his staff, along with the challenge of the composite course, which will test the world’s best next year in the lead event of the FedExCup Playoffs.

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