Four years ago, Brandon Brown sank an 18-inch putt to win his first NGA/Hooters Tour event by one shot over current PGA Tour members Kris Blanks and Matt Every. On Sunday, 28-year-old Eastern Kentucky alumnus didn't need to even hit a ball to win his second.
After battling the heavy rains for two days, the Charter Childhood Cancer Awareness Classic at the Chattahoochee Golf Club was shortened to 36 holes, giving second-round leader Brown his first win since April of 2007.
Brown, of Shelbyville, Ky., finished with a 6-under-par 136 total to best Zach Sucher and James Vargas by two shots in the fourth NGA/Hooters Tour event of the season.
Brown, a two-time All-Ohio Valley Conference selection at Eastern Kentucky, burst onto the scene in his rookie season in 2007, finishing in the top 10 in his first event and winning in his second. But after posting four top 10s during his rookie season, Brown only had two top-10 efforts over the next two seasons. Last season, Brown decided to take a step back in order to take two forward.
"I took some time off, worked on my game and only played in four events," Brown said. "I realized I didn't have to hit the ball as far as I could all the time. Coming into this year, I felt very confident. I'm a lot more mature than I was when I first won and I‘ve got a great caddy on the bag."
The confidence showed two weeks ago in the Harley-Davidson of Ocala (Fla.) Classic, where Brown recorded a his best finish since 2008 by finishing tied for third. It carried over into the Charter Childhood Cancer Awareness Classic.
In blustery conditions, Brown fired a 2-under 69 on Thursday to get to within one shot of the lead. On Friday, he matched the low round of the day, shooting a 4-under 67 to move two shots ahead of Zach Sucher and James Vargas. And when rains washed out play on Saturday and Sunday, Brown was declared the winner.
"The first day was tough, and the scores showed," said Brown. "But I stayed patient and finished real strong with three birdies over my last four holes. I knew any score in the 60s was going to be good. I didn't have many mistakes on either day, and I played the par-5s well, which is good, especially because there is only three of them out here."
All told, Brown birdied four out of six par-5s during the two days en route to a $28,000 payday. Brown plans on spending a bit of the loot Sunday afternoon.
"I think I'm going to stay here and go watch the Kentucky-North Carolina game," he said.
Sucher, of Mobile, Ala., held a share of the lead after the first round at 3-under par, but a 1-under 70 in the second round dropped the former UAB star two shots behind and into a tie for second at the finish. Vargas, of Miami, Fla., opened with an even-par 71, but the former Florida Gator matched Brown's 67 and moved into a tie for second with Sucher at 4-under par. Sucher and Vargas both pocketed $11,329.
Two-time NGA/Hooters Tour winner Jeff Corr, of Longwood, Fla., also carded a 4-under-par 67 in the second round and finished T4 at 3-under par. Reid Edstrom, of Auburn, Ala., joined Corr in fourth.
Justin Smith (Franklin, Pa.), Andy Winings (Brownsburg, Ind.), Michael O'Neal (Jacksonville, Fla.), Vince Hatfield (Greenwood, S.C.) and Matthew Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.) all finished 2-under par and tied for sixth.
Ted Potter (Ocala, Fla.), Erik Barnes (Venice, Fla.), Daniel McCarthy (Syracuse, N.Y.), Justin Yoder (Warrensburg, Mo.) Michael Daniels (Auburn, Ala.), Jesse Speirs (Bangor, Maine), Doug Ferris (Hernando Beach, Fla.), Will Claxton (Swainsboro) and Scott Parel (Augusta) finished tied for 10th.