Kiwi Mark Brown qualifies for British Open

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 15:46 30/01/2013
Mark Brown
FAIRFAX NZ
BIG TIME: Mark Brown has qualified for the British Open.

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New Zealand golfer Mark Brown has produced one of the rounds of his life to set a course record at Kingston Heath in Melbourne today and qualify for this year's British Open.

Brown was tied for 27th at even-par heading into today's second and final round at the International Final Qualifying event, and knew he needed to go low to have any chance of claiming one of just three spots available for Muirfield in July.

He stood on the first tee just wanting to have fun, and that's exactly what he did, firing in eight birdies and an eagle in a flawless round of 10-under par 62 to finish at 10-under for the 36-hole tournament and top the 72-strong field.

Australians Stephen Jeffress (nine-under) and Stephen Dartnall (eight-under) claimed the other two spots.

In setting a course record at the famed Kingston Heath layout, which has played host to some of golf's best over the years, the 37-year-old has booked his second British Open start.

He failed to make the cut in his only other appearance, at Turnberry in 2009 when he was playing on the European Tour.

"It was an awesome day, it looks like I'm through which is great," Brown said soon after his round.

"I was even-par yesterday so I had to go out today and just blaze away and have some fun. I managed to get off to a pretty good start.

"I am lucky enough to have played in The Open before so it's nice to be able to have another crack. These qualifying days are pretty hit or miss, there are only three spots for 70-odd guys, so it was always going to be tough. It's just a great thrill."

Brown had 65 in his head before he teed off today and four birdies and an eagle, at the 462m par-five seventh, had him well on his way as he turned in six-under 30.

The former European Tour winner made birdies at the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th coming home to sign for a 62.

"I just kept pushing and managed to get to 10-under, which is pretty low, especially around here.

It's a tough course but it was a cracking day, no wind, which you don't often get here, and the course was there for the taking if you played well.

"Once I got going I felt like I had to keep pushing because I knew it would take a low one. It was a good mindset for me because once I got to seven-under, I knew I'd need a couple more."

Apart from Turnberry in 2009, Brown's only other appearance at a major was at the PGA Championship in 2008, the year in which he won the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour. He finished tied for 24th at Oakland Hills.

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"Any time you get to play a major and represent New Zealand in a major is fantastic."

He will play twice next month, at the Victorian Open and the NZ PGA Championship at The Hills, before switching his attention to the OneAsia tour.

- Stuff

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