AMERICAN golfer Olin Browne has realised a long held dream by winning his first golf major at the ripe old age of 52.
As a youngster with big ambitions and not so much game, Browne used to go to a local par-3 course with his then girlfriend Pam and imagine what it would be like to win a national championship.
Now he has captured the biggest victory of his life, holding off double-major winner Mark O’Meara to win the 2011 US Senior Open by three strokes.
“This goes back a long way for us,” Browne said of the aspirations he and now wife Pam had first considered some 30 years ago.
When Browne rolled in a 30 foot birdie putt on the last to applause from the large crowd at the Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio, it was his first win in 141 consecutive tournaments – since the 2005 Deutsche Bank.
His even-par 71 followed rounds of 64, 69 and 65 and left him at 15-under 269.
Browne said he struggled with nerves on the front side, but still was able to sidestep any gaffes. He had made 15 birdies and two eagles to blitz the field and take a two-stroke lead into the final round. But in the last 18 holes, he played within himself and was content to craft pars while everyone else tried to catch him.
O’Meara (72, 12-under), winner of the 1998 Masters and British Open, caught up but couldn’t hang on.
“This is a huge victory for him,” O’Meara said. “I know it’s his first win out here on the Champions Tour. It’s a major championship. You look at the leaderboard, there’s a lot of quality players up there at the top of the leaderboard. I think Olin should be very proud of himself.”
Mark Calcavecchia finished alone in third place with a closing 69 putting him at 11-under, while Hale Irwin (68) and Joey Sindelar (70) finished tied for fourth on 10 under.
Peter Senior comes home in outright 6th
Australia’s Peter Senior finished at 9-under in outright sixth. Senior had a huge tournament and received loads of exposure but will probably be ruing what might have been.
The 52 year old Queenslander took the outright lead briefly midway through his first round and the opportunity was there for the taking.
He finished with his worst scoring round of the tournament, an even par 71 comprised of four birdies and four bogeys. His first three rounds were 69, 67 and 68.2011 US Senior Open Final Results