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There have been many athletes from Shelby County who have performed on big stages – some have played for major championships in the collegiate ranks – but it is arguable that no one had earned a chance to perform in perhaps the most important event his sport conducts.
But there was Brandon Brown of Shelbyville teeing up his golf ball on Thursday and Friday in the United States Open Golf Championship, the biggest tournament in the sport.
That he was the first to play in this event is a supreme honor. That he earned that opportunity the hard way was exemplary.
Mr. Brown, who is a successful player on the professional NGA Tour, played through two grueling stages of qualifying to win some of the coveted spots made available at 11 different regions of the country. At his Sectional Qualifying in Springfield, Ohio, only two players earned spots in the tournament.
Thus he played this past week at Merion Golf Club, a storied and arduous course just outside Philadelphia. If you watched on TV, you saw most difficult conditions, with deep and dense rough, narrow fairways and concrete-slick greens. Weather and scheduling problems only compounded that difficulty.
Success in golf is not foreign to Shelby Countians. Betty Baird Kregor was an accomplished touring professional before settling in Shelby County. Howard Logan Jr. – and perhaps others – has played in the United States Amateur. Dennis Long last year played in the Senior Amateur. All are amazing accomplishments
But to play in the U.S. Open alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, on fairways made famous by Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan is almost reverence.
Mr. Brown remarkably made a birdie on the first hole he played and performed very well, narrowly missing the cut to play in the final two rounds.
But during a 32-hole span he played on Friday, there was a moment when ESPN showed him making a par putt.
And that made us smile: Brandon Brown of Shelbyville, putting out on national TV in the U.S. Open.