HAVING learnt his trade on our local greens, a golfer still with plenty of Sussex ties celebrated his first European Senior Tour triumph last week.
Former Hill Barn member Simon P Brown survived a roller-coaster finish to seal a superb maiden victory in his rookie season on the tour at a rain-soaked Russian Open Golf Championship.
Despite a closing five holes which featured a double bogey, a bogey and three birdies, the 50-year-old sealed his victory of the season at Moscow Country Club after a closing 70 sealed a 12-under par 206 total.
Brown, who started playing at Hill Barn at the age of 11, looked entirely composed all week in his pursuit of a first title since gaining his card at Qualifying School in January.
Having turned pro at 16 he played at Goodwood and West Sussex before taking a teaching job in Germany, where he still lives with his wife Kerstin, and where has played most of his golf since.
He finished with a two-shot cushion over joint runners-up Mike Harwood and Carl Mason (both 68), while Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (71) finished in a three-way tie for fourth, alongside Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin and Denmark’s Steen Tinning (both 72).
The win, in just his eighth European Senior Tour appearance, propels him from 51st to fifth in the Order of Merit thanks to a winner’s cheque of €97,305.
The Brown name is still very well known locally, his mother and father Wendy and Ken both live in Worthing, both former Hill Barn golfers, while Ken can still be seen playing at Littlehampton.
The senior hot-shot is also related to the Tulley family, who ply their trade at Worthing Golf Club, with nephew David winning the Sussex Team Matchplay Championship earlier this month, while his brother Jamie and father Peter have all caddied for Brown over the years.
Brown, who finished tied fourth at the Russian Open on the same course as his win 17 years ago on the Challenge Tour, said: “Funnily enough, I was quite calm, despite how the scorecard must look. I was disappointed to lose a ball at 14 but I told myself just to keep going and hung in there for a strong finish.
“But that shot into 18 was very nice. That took all the pressure off and I was able to enjoy the walk up to the green.
“It’s been a bit of a story, I suppose. I think I expected a bit too much of myself when I first got on Tour but in the past few weeks a change back to my old putter has helped me play well again.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a professional in Germany, but this is different – the biggest win of my career by far and a life-changing day.”
Brown’s victory has seen him become only the third Englishman to win on the 2013 European Senior Tour and smash his previous-best finish of 15th.
Brown, who led by one shot overnight, birdied the second before making his first bogey in 39 holes on the third.
A manic close saw his lead wiped out as he lost his ball with an errant drive at the par four 14th en route to a double bogey.
He bounced back immediately with a birdie at the long 15th, but then he missed a short par putt at the following hole to slip to ten under.
Brown kept his nerve, however, rattling in a 25ft birdie at the 17th before almost holing a seven-iron approach to the par-four last for a tap-in and a superb maiden victory.