Golf: Brown shoots course record to qualify for Open

Wellington golfer Mark Brown fired a course record at Kingston Heath in Melbourne today to win a spot at the 2013 British Open.

Brown went on a birdie blitz to shoot at 10 under par 62, winning the qualifying event by one shot from Australian Steven Jeffress and securing his place at golf's oldest championship.

It is fitting Brown qualified in style as his appearance will be 50 years after Sir Bob Charles' win of the Open Championship in 1963 at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

"It would be a great thrill to follow [Sir Bob] and win the British Open. I better get in some practise before then," Brown said. "I just wanted to go out and blaze away and have fun. It started getting serious, though."

Brown's round included eight birdies and an eagle and was spectacular from start to finish. The 37-year-old made four birdies and an eagle on the front nine to make the turn in six under par 30 and get himself firmly in contention for the three qualifying spots.

He continued his momentum with birdies on 11, 12, 14 and 16 to get set the standard for the qualifying event and join Jeffress and Australian Stephen Dartnall in earning places at Muirfield in July.

"I have never been to Muirfield but it looks like an awesome course," Brown said. "I played in Europe for a few years and played in many great events. I have played a couple of majors. It will be great but it is nothing out of the ordinary for me. It will be great to play in another major."

In his previous majors, Brown placed tied for 24th at the 2008 US PGA Championship and missed the cut at the Open Championship in 2009, a tournament for which he has long held a special affinity.

"My earliest memory of the British Open goes back to when [Nick] Faldo was winning majors in the early 90s. I remember [Michael Campbell] almost won the Open at St Andrews in 1995. We'd stay up all night watching it in New Zealand. They are just great events and I am looking forward to playing this one."

Brown earned that right by beating the previous course record of Western Australian amateur Cruze Strange by one stroke.

"I love this place," he said. "I played so well here in November (at the Australian Masters). I have so much respect for this place and it is quite a thrill to hold a course record at a course like this. It would have to be ranked in the top three courses in Australia so it's awesome."

It is Brown's best result since he finished in a share of fourth place at the New Zealand Open at Clearwater in December - but the result of this tournament is a touch more important.

"I hope this is a big deal back home. I hope that we get a few more there as well. The way Cambo is playing at the moment it would be great to see him get a start.

"There is not a Kiwi in every major so at least this British Open there will be me in the field. I can't wait."


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