ENGLAND’S Simon P Brown survived a rollercoaster finish at the rain-soaked Russian Open Golf Championship to become the fourth Senior Tour rookie to win in 2013.
Despite a closing five holes which featured a double bogey, a bogey and three birdies, the 50-year-old completed victory at Moscow Country Club as a closing 70 sealed a 12-under-par 206 total and a two-shot cushion over joint runners-up Mike Harwood and Carl Mason (both 68). Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (71) was among the group one shot further back in a three-way tie for fourth alongside Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin and Denmark’s Steen Tinning (both 72).
With almost constant rain falling, Brown, who led by one overnight, birdied the second before making his first bogey in 39 holes at the difficult third. Two gains in succession from the sixth extended his advantage before his lead was wiped out in a manic finish.
Playing in the third from last group, Australia’s Harwood and Mason of England were on the surge as a gain by the former at the long 17th and a birdie from the bunker by the latter at the last handed the pair a clubhouse total of ten under par.
Brown, who had looked entirely composed all week in his pursuit of a first title since gaining his card at Qualifying School in January, lost his ball with an errant drive at the par-four 14th en route to a double bogey. He bounced back with a birdie at the 15th but, when he missed a short par putt at the following hole to slip to ten under, a play-off with Harwood and Mason looked imminent.
Brown kept his nerve, however, rattling in a 25-foot birdie at the 17th before almost holing a magnificent seven-iron approach to the par-four last for the easiest of tap-ins and victory.
“Funnily enough I was quite calm, despite how the score card must look,” said Brown, who won €97,305.
“I was disappointed to lose a ball at 14, but I told myself just to keep going and hung in there for a strong finish. That shot into 18 was very nice. That took all the pressure off.”
Brown finished tied fourth at the Russian Open here 17 years ago on the Challenge Tour, having spent much of his life as a club professional at Golf Club Rhein-Sieg in Germany, and he heralded yesterday as a “life changing day”. He added: “I think I expected a bit too much of myself when I first got on Tour but, in the last few weeks, a change back to my old putter has helped me play well again. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a professional in Germany but this is different – the biggest win of my career by far and a life-changing day.”
Brown is the fourth rookie to win on the 2013 Senior Tour in the last five events, following Steen Tinning (Berenberg Masters), Santiago Luna (Scottish Senior Open) and Montgomerie (Senior Masters).