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Shelby County’s Brandon Brown took Wichita by storm this past weekend.
Brown finished tied for ninth at Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open on the Nationwide Tour, by far his best finish of the year.
“I wasn’t real surprised because I’ve played well out here,” Brown said of his four events on the Nationwide Tour. “I made the cut twice, and really even in the two where I missed the cut, I had a chance to make it. I’ve just had a couple of holes with big numbers that cost me.
“But this past week I was steady and didn’t make too many mistakes. When I had the chance, I was aggressive, but I was able to stay back and just play smart.”
Brown just slipped past the 2-under-par cut with a 139, 3-under, but his game jumped on Saturday.
A 5-under 66 was tied for the top score of the day and moved him into contention on Sunday.
“I had a really good round on Saturday, and I was able to keep that up on Sunday to start,” he said. “I came out and birdied [holes] two and three to get to 10-under for the tournament. Then I got a birdie on number 10 to get to 11-under and I saw the leaders there at 15-under. I left an opportunity out there on number 11, and then I had some trouble on number 12 and ended up with a double [bogey]. That cost me, but I know I can go out there and do better, too.”
Brown said he felt very comfortable on Wichita’s Crestview Country Club course.
“It was a lot like the Shelbyville Country Club,” he said. “It was longer, but it had the same tree-lined fairways. It felt like my home course that I grew up on.”
Not only did this top 10-finish bump Brown up on the Nationwide money list to No. 138, but it also put him in better shape to finish the season on the tour. With 11 more tournaments to play this year, he likes his chances.
“This put me in pretty good shape to play,” he said. “They don’t really say who’s going to be in for all the tournaments, but I think I have a great shot even though I don’t have full status. I’m in Springfield [Mo.] this week [for the Price Cutter Charity Championship], and next week I’ll be in Kansas City [for the Christmas in October stop]. And I may be in [Moscow] Pennsylvania the next week.”
Brown said he hopes to play for those three weeks and then maybe take a week off to rest up for six consecutive weeks to end the season.
“That’s going to be a long grind,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to it.”
The success this past week may have been what Brown needed to move up full time from the Hooters Tour.
“I’m more comfortable out here on the Nationwide Tour,” he said. “It’s more business-like, and this is where I want to be. The Hooters Tour is almost like playing a round on the weekend with your buddies. Last week set me up pretty good, but a lot's going to depend on the next two weeks, too. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape [to stay].”
Brown said he needs to get inside the top 85 to earn a fulltime spot next season. The top 25 earn a PGA Tour card.
“Golf’s a funny game,” he said. “One week can change your whole season. That’s where I am now. If I go out and keep playing steady and consistent, I can move up.”
Brown also has a little company on those long road trips now.
His cousin Sean Brown is on his bag as his caddie. Sean has been on the bag both times Brandon has made the cut on the Nationwide Tour.
“He’s definitely coming with me now,” he said. “We’ve grown up together and know each other so well. It’s been a lot of fun. We have a lot of the same qualities, and we have a lot in common. He’s not going to go out there and try to get in the way. He’s laid back, and he knows my game, so it’s been pretty nice. Even when we’re not playing golf, it’s been a good time.”
Brown said he hopes to have Sean on the bag for the rest of the season.