Brown secures NZ Open place

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown was a popular winner of the Hills Invitation Pro-Am at The Hills in Arrowtown over the weekend.

Brown (44), of Mount Maunganu, who considers himself an ‘‘oldie’’ in the twilight of his career, displayed form that belied that claim. He was rock-solid during rounds of 68, 68.

After 13 holes on Sunday, his lead was three but two late bogeys as the wind caused conditions to worsen allowed Queenstown player James Anstiss an opportunity to force a playoff with a birdie on the 18th.

James Anstiss
James Anstiss

However, his 4.5m putt slid by the hole leaving him in a tie for second with another young gun in Nick Voke, of Auckland. Both shot 68, 69.

Anstiss, the 2017 winner, had made a great start with three birdies in the first five holes, but could only comfortably par the holes until an eagle opportunity on the par-5 13th which unluckily lipped out.

A bogey on the 14th, when he left an approach shot short of the green, ultimately proved costly.

The nice pay day will give him a good feeling as he heads to Mexico for the Latin America qualifying school.

Success there will mean he will return home for the New Zealand Open and other Australasian events before returning to Mexico in mid-March for several events.

Brown, who pocketed the $10,000 winner’s purse, was thrilled with his form and to also win a place in the 101st New Zealand Open at the end of February.

Brown who has a fine record over the years at the Open, including two second placings, has gained some confidence for it.

“I played really nicely and I putted very well. I often struggle with putting at The Hills because of the subtle breaks.

‘‘This time I made some adjustments and didn’t allow as much for any possible breaks and just putted the line.”

As for 2020, Brown, whose successful career which includes a European Tour title, will no longer play the tours and will just play the New Zealand Charles Tour and then ...

‘‘I will look for another job, although what exactly I have no idea. However, I would like to be involved in coaching some of the up-and-coming youngsters.”

Most of New Zealand’s top professionals including Michael Hendry who finished a tidy fifth, were again in the field for this very popular event. Former winner Daniel Pearce finished fourth, while last year’s winner Harry Bateman was eighth.

Leading scores: 136, Mark Brown 68,68 1; 137 James Anstiss 68,69, Nick Voke 68,69, 2 equal; 140 Daniel Pearce 68,72, 4; Fraser Wilkin 70,72 , Michael Hendry 70,72 5 equal; 143 Daniel Hillier 70,73, 7; 144 Craig Palmer 72,72, Harry Bateman 72,72 Denzel Ieremia 68,76, 8 equal.

-By Neville Idour

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