Brown gets blues on the greens at NZ Open

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
Mark Brown
Getty
GREAT FORM: Mark Brown was on the verge of being the first local winner of the NZ Open since 2003.

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Dejected Kiwi Mark Brown needed only look at his all too familiar foe - his putter - to work out what went wrong in his New Zealand Open.

The 37-year-old Wellingtonian blew a three shot lead in yesterday's final round, finishing fourth, three shots behind the surprise winner, Australian amateur Jake Higginbottom.

Ironically, it was Brown's putter that put him in contention on Saturday when the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic winner burned the course up with a six-under 66.

A couple of mates had seen him putting on Friday and called Brown to tell him of a technical change he needed to make. It worked wonders and he had seven birdies and just 28 putts on Saturday. The success on the greens was sadly short-lived.

Yesterday he again stuck the ball well and from tee to green was impressive, but his putting stroke deserted him in a big way.

"I played well enough. I played beautifully for the first 10 holes and I didn't miss a shot," he said.

"[But] I only holed one putt. I had 33 putts for the day so that's never going to win a golf tournament. It probably proves that you can't win a golf tournament with your long game, you're going to have to hole a few putts and today that didn't happen."

Brown, who looked a broken man talking after his one-over par 73, said most frustrating about his putter issues was the fact that it wasn't a new problem.

"It's just frustrating. It's probably been a career thing for me so I've just got to get better if I want to reach the goals that I want to reach."

His A$27,000 (NZ$34,300) pay cheque for fourth would have gone only a little way to ease Brown's heartbreak.

He was also the best of the Kiwis while Aucklander Richard Lee snuck under the radar yesterday.

Lee's three-under 69 earned him a top five and A$19,200.

Mahal Pearce - the last Kiwi to win the tournament - and tournament favourite Michael Hendry were the next best locals, tied for 10th at even par.

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