When you move into a tie with Walter Hagen, you have had a heck of a week. That is what Mark Brown celebrated Wednesday with his third Met Open title, one behind record-holder Alex Smith and tied with The Haig, among others. For a touch of added luster, he did it at Glen Oaks Club, which itself had a heck of a week.
Not only did the 7,012-yard course draw compliments for looking spectacular, it also was as tough as nails. Of the 144 golfers who entered the venerable elite event, the number who broke par for three days was exactly one. Brown, the head pro at Tam O’Shanter Club in Brookville, finished at 4 under, four strokes ahead of amateur Cameron Young.
That was affirmation for the club and superintendent Craig Currier, former superintendent at Bethpage, who will spend the next 12 months preparing Glen Oaks to host The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoff opener (currently known as The Barclays).
“I’m sure he’s not too pleased with me shooting under par,” Brown said with a grin after his 2-under-par 68 in the final round.
Having played in six PGA Championships, including the most recent one last month, Brown knows how good PGA Tour players are and what can challenge them. He is certain Glen Oaks will hold its own.
“I think it’s great. I think the rough will be even thicker than we had it,” he said. “You’re hitting out of the rough into these chipping areas, there are a lot of delicate shots out here. I can’t tell you how many times I got up and down from difficult areas.”
Mostly what made Glen Oaks so difficult was the collection of 18 extremely fast greens. Brown hit knockdown shots so the ball did not spin backward, down onto fairways or into bunkers. “You just had to control the ball and if you’re not in the fairway, it’s hard to control your ball,” he said. “I had some putts today that were downhill. You’re not aggressive. If the hole gets in the way, it does.”
He saved par from 18 feet on No. 9 Wednesday and pretty much put it away with a 15-footer for birdie on No. 16, minutes after Young had bogeyed there.
Brown credited the reads he received from his caddie, Josh Rackley, one of his assistant pros and the runner-up in the Long Island PGA this year. But the bulk of the kudos and the $27,500 first-place check went to the man who won the Met Open in 1999 and 2013. His third win ties him with Darrell Kestner, Macdonald Smith and Wes Ellis, along with Hagen (one of the all-time greatest golfers).
To do it only three weeks shy of his 50th birthday was an accomplishment. “It’s amazing. All these young kids just rip it nowadays and they’re scoring well. You see them in these local events, you see them in Web.com [tour events]. For me to be just a club pro and do what I do, it’s kind of cool,” he said.
Cooler still will be the chance next August to watch PGA Tour pros play on the course he tamed. He could view it with his members, who include Islanders general manager Garth Snow. Someone wondered if the pro might get a congratulatory text from the hockey executive. Brown said, “I’d better.”
Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens will hold the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Golf Classic Sept. 12 at Sands Point Golf Club. Islanders alumni are scheduled to appear. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Muratore (age 9), Greens at Half Hollow, eighth hole, 100 yards, 6-iron
Marty Shea, Cherry Valley Club, fifth hole, 176 yards, 6-iron
Mike Walsh, Cherry Valley Club, fifth hole, 178 yards, 8-iron
Steve DelliBovi, North Hills CC, 16th hole, 180 yards, 5-wood
Gary Kaufman, Lawrence Y&CC, fourth hole, 149 yards, 7-iron
Alan Golus, Lake Success GC, third hole, 163 yards, 3-wood
Richard Farkas, Engineers CC, 14th hole, 101 yards, pitching wedge
Christine Rudkin, Heatherwood GC, ninth hole, 100 yards, 7-wood
Chris Rufer, Heartland Golf Park, ninth hole, 115 yards, gap wedge