Brown Hits the Mark for Johnnie Walker Classic Triumph

Sun 02 Mar 2008

Brown Hits the Mark for Johnnie Walker Classic Triumph

Gurgaon, India, March 2: New Zealand's Mark Brown produced a stunning final nine holes to claim a dream victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic and a second title in a week.
Five birdies on the back nine stunned the elite field at DLF Golf and Country Club as he romped home in 31 for a five-under-par 67 and 18-under-par total of 270 to secure a three-stroke victory over the Australian pair of Greg Chalmers and Scott Strange and Japan?s Taichiro Kiyota.
Seven days earlier, Brown won his maiden title on the Asian Tour when he captured the SAIL Open presented by Jaypee Greens and he made it back-to-back titles in India with a breathtaking display over the closing stages in the US$2.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and PGTI.
Brown trailed overnight leader Kiyota by four strokes coming into the final nine holes but he turned on the gas with a burst of four successive birdies from the 12th as Kiyota, who looked totally in control in picking up three birdies on the front nine, started to fade. Brown?s surge edged him in front and when Kiyota three putted the 17th Brown had the luxury of a two-stroke cushion playing the final hole.
The drama was not over though as, after an ideal drive, he completely mishit his second shot which looked destined to be heading to the water guarding the front of the green. But the golfing gods were smiling on him and somehow it carried to the edge of the green from where he safely two putted for a final birdie to put the icing on the cake.
It was a dream come true for a player who became so disillusioned that he gave up the game for three years, turning his back on tournament golf to take up a teaching role in New Zealand. But after working with coach Mal Tongue he returned with added vigour and the rewards are immense.
Victory was worth US$409,743 and lifted him to the top of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit. His victory meant he joined great names including Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els as champion of the Johnnie Walker Classic.
"It is amazing to have my name there," he said. "I have worked extremely hard for this and it is a dream come true. I played for eight or nine years first time round and I wasn't good enough physically or mentally. I have worked for three years to come back and my coach Mal Tongue has been a tremendous support. The last two weeks have been a blur."
Looking back on his round, Brown admitted it wasn't easy. "I played terrible the front side, I don't think I hit a fairway or green and got to the tenth and said to myself let's have a solid nine holes and the birdies started falling. The rest is a dream."
The dream was almost shattered with his second shot to the last. ?It was the worst shot I've hit sine I was 14! Totally out of the heel and so thin I thought it was completely in the water. It couldn't go anywhere else. Luckily I had enough club with six iron and it must have just scrapped over, it was quite a relief after that."
For Kiyota, who was bidding to become Asia's first winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic, there was obvious disappointment with his two over par back nine for a final round of 71, and he confessed his lost his rhythm the moment he started to think he could win. A bogey followed and the momentum was gone.
"As the score shows the front nine was great but on the back nine I started to think of victory and lost my pace," he said. "I started thinking I could win on the 12th and made bogey and that just knocked me off my pace. But Mark played great golf over the back nine and I feel he definitely won it."
Strange also charged into contention with a hat-trick of birdies on the back nine to move into a three-way tie for the lead before Brown edged one ahead with his birdie on the 16th. Playing the last, Strange felt he needed to birdie but he pushed his drive into the fairway bunker and found a terrible lie under the lip. His recovery hit a tree and third overshot the green. His chance was gone and a chip and two putts later he signed for a 71 and 15 under par total.
"It was a disappointing finish but I would have taken it at the start of the week," said Strange, a two-time Asian Tour winner. "I played well, the best I have played this year and I am looking forward to the rest of the year now."
Shiv Kapur finished the week as the leading Indian after a round of 68 left him in a share of fifth place on 274 alongside Sweden's Johan Edfors, who shot a best of the day 65, and England's Graeme Storm (69).
Leading final round scores

270 - Mark Brown (NZL) 71-68-64-67

273 - Taichiro Kiyota (JPN) 68-67-67-71, Greg Chalmers (AUS) 68-69-68-68, Scott Strange (AUS) 71-67-68-67

274 - Graeme Storm (ENG) 70-66-69-69, Shiv Kapur (IND) 69-65-72-68, Johan Edfors (SWE) 71-69-69-65

275 - Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 70-65-68-72

276 - Daniel Vancsik (ARG) 67-71-68-70, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 74-65-70-67

277 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 68-70-70-69, Scott Barr (AUS) 71-70-67-69, Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 69-67-73-68

278 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 70-67-72-69, Soren Hansen (DEN) 69-69-71-69, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 71-68-71-68

279 - Phillip Archer (ENG) 72-64-69-74, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 70-68-69-72, Tony Carolan (AUS) 71-69-68-71, Scott Laycock (AUS) 72-68-68-71, Arjun Atwal (IND) 69-72-67-71, Kane Webber (AUS) 73-69-66-71, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-70-68-70, Mark Foster (ENG) 68-74-67-70

For further information, please contact the Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang at the Johnnie Walker Classic Media Centre tel: +91 124 734810. Also visit for live scoring.


First played in Hong Kong in 1990, the JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC broke new ground by not only being the first tournament to be jointly sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australasian golf Tours, but also by being unique in that the event has been played in seven countries and at 12 golf clubs over the past 17 years. The 2008 JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC has also gained the all-important support of the PGTI, the Professional Golfers Tour India.

The JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC, presented by the world's biggest-selling deluxe whisky, offers prize money of £1.25m (US$2.5m), and will be televised live around the world.

The event is owned by DIAGEO, the world's leading premium drinks business, and managed as it has been since the very first event, by IMG, the world's premier sports, lifestyle management and marketing company.

In the game of golf, there are few brands that can match JOHNNIE WALKER and its association with the sport, the style and excellence of its tournament - the JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC.  It is an event that in 17 years has gained the reputation of being one of the best in the world, continually attracting outstanding players, huge galleries and worldwide television coverage.