Changing game

YALLOURN Golf Club member Anthony Brown is one step closer to his goal of playing on the United States PGA tour after finishing tied for second in the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum last month.

Brown carded a sizzling third round 64, the equal low round for the tournament, to put himself in contention for a maiden Australian major win and eventually finished four shots off winner and fourth round playing partner Daniel Popovic (-16) at 12 under par.

The $100,000 payday was the biggest in the former Yallourn resident’s career to date, and the result rocketed Brown up to seventh on the 2012 PGA tour of Australasia Order of Merit list, enabling him to play a host of extra events in 2013.

Among the new frontiers for the 30 year-old professional will be the $3 million Volvo China Open and the Dunhill Links celebrity pro-am championship, in which the likes of Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Hugh Grant have played in the past.

Brown will also be exempt to the final stages of qualifying schools for the European, Japanese and US tours in his best shot at the big time outside Australasia in eight years as a pro.

“This coming year I’ll be able to enter into the final stages of all three of those and have a serious consideration about where I want to play in the future, which ideally for me is in the States,” Brown said.

After a lean 2012 in terms of results on the Australian and OneAsia tours, Brown found his groove at Coolum averaging an impressive 26 putts per round and 1.55 putts per green in regulation for the tournament.

“Tee to green I’ve always played the course a similar sort of way to what I did through the week but I just putted better,” he said.

“Everyone always bangs on about how important good putting is; putting is the difference between finishing first and finishing 30th so it was definitely a case of that for me.”

After missing the cut at the Australian Open, Brown said his form from the Western Australian Open and the first two rounds of the New South Wales PGA held him in good stead for the final Australian major of the year.

“The form was there and I felt pretty good about how I was playing overall; I just needed a week where things all sort of clicked,” he said.

Playing in the final pairing on Sunday exacerbated the challenge at hand, with increased media and spectator attention, but Brown said he was at ease despite the mounting pressure to perform.

“It’s the first time I’d played in the last group on Sunday in an event that size so I’m definitely proud of how I performed and I got a good taste for being in that situation and really enjoyed it,” he said.

“Things do change; all of a sudden you’ve got cameras on you, everyone’s looking at you and the crowd goes from having maybe 10 to 15 people watching… to several hundred watching.

“This time I was ready to be in that situation where a couple of years ago if I had gotten myself there I might not quite have been as ready and probably would have been more uncomfortable.”

While the Australasian and OneAsia tours will again dominate Brown’s playing calendar in 2013, the born and bred Gippslander still finds time to squeeze in a round at Yallourn most months with his father and active club member Peter.

“I still enjoy getting back to my roots,” he said.

“I only won (the Yallourn club championship) once but it was definitely a good memory.”