Mitchell Brown secures exciting victory at NSW Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | Australian Mens Amateur Tour | 2005 New South Wales Amateur Championship | Wrap | 13 Feb 2005
They say patience is a virtue and in Mitchell Brown’s case it could not be further from the truth as he calmly played his way into the record books at today’s Volkswagen NSW Amateur Championship, held at the magnificent Elanora Country Club.
The Bankstown Golf Club member’s name is now alongside players such as the great Harry Berwick and seasoned professionals Peter O’Malley, Lucas Parsons and New Zealander, Michael Campbell.
Mitchell held off a spirited challenge from Concord Golf Club member Won Joon Lee in a match that not only exhibited fine play but splendid sportsmanship between the obvious two friends. The match went Brown’s way 5/4.
It was a fitting final between arguably the two best amateurs currently in NSW.
The new look Elanora Country Club layout is nothing short of impressive to say the least and is sure to host many a future tournament of this stature. It has to rate as one of Sydney’s and Australia’s top layouts and the players had nothing but praise for the course. Brown himself described the course as “awesome”.
It’s a layout that requires fine placement as opposed to sheer brutality from the tee and this proved to play to Brown’s advantage as he admitted in our interview after the victory that he is not the longest hitter amongst the top amateur players and plans to hit the gym in an attempt to gain some extra yards with the driver.
Lee, rather has the reputation of being a brut with the driver and this was confirmed on numerous occasions, especially on the third hole, a 281 metre par 4 when he nearly hit the writer with his drive. I was standing in a position which I thought was safe, alongside the green.
It was the outcome of this 21st hole that resulted in the first hint of a pending Brown victory. The match was in Brown’s favor 2 up and Lee had driven the green, whilst Brown was faced with a delicate 60 metre chip over a bunker to a tightly placed pin. Brown hit a superb chip to 10 metres. Lee would go onto three putt the hole, a costly error, which had he made birdie could surely had changed the momentum and possibly the outcome of the match.
The final turning point was the 26th hole, a short 285 metres par 4 (Elanora’s 8th hole) where Brown, with the honour, played a conservative 2 iron off the tee into the middle of the fairway, 110 metres from the green. Mitchell’s father was his caddie so one cannot help but think there was some parental advice given in the club selection. Lee then attempted to smash a driver over the fairway bunkers. He pushed the shot which resulted in an unplayable lie well into the scrub, some 80 metres from the hole. Upon locating his ball, Lee was forced to concede the hole.
Many of the sizable gallery questioned Lee’s strategy at such a critical point of the match. Put simply, it was a costly error by Lee and it gave Brown the momentum and confidence associated with a 5 up lead at the three quarter stage of the match.
Brown never looked back from there, despite Lee’s mini resurgence with birdies and wins on the 27th and 28th holes.
I asked Mitchell after the match how he felt he played.
“I’ve been struggling with my game during the stroke play, so I was lucky to get through. I had played well at the Belmont International and came second so that was not too bad of a finish. I am glad with today’s result”, said Brown who was the number 14 seed in the Championship. Lee had qualified 8th.
Mitchell told me he had struggled for the last two weeks with hitting a fade. However, a quick lesson this morning from his coach, the legendary Alex Mercer soon fixed the problem.
His form at Belmont was impressive. At that event Victorian Marc Leishman was simply unstoppable, playing in a different zone and level on a layout which many players had trouble putting due to greens that could only be described as “average”. Mitchell finished a creditable equal second, in arguably the strongest amateur field to meet this year. He is presently eyeing off national team selection with a particular focus on the Eisenhower Cup team.
Take nothing away from the boy from Bankstown, an area of south western Sydney that has a reputation of producing fine sportsman. Brown himself admitted in our interview he was a cricketer at first and we all know what came out of the Bankstown area in that department – the Waugh brothers. He started playing golf at 11 and it was not until he was 16 that he took the game seriously.
Mitchell’s play today was simply controlled, reflecting a discipline towards the game often only seen in a season professional. The strategy paid dividends for him, then again if you been in the same driving seat a year before, you are acutely aware what is needed to secure victory at this level.
Mitchell rates today’s victory in the Volkswagen NSW Amateur as equal to his win in the Australian Medal a few years ago. This week he travels south to Tasmania to complete in the Tasmanian Open, part of his preparation for the Australian Amateur to be played at Royal Melbourne, commencing 17 March 2005.
Photo – Anthony Powter