Michael Brown Jr. has been one of the better players in the Golf Association of Philadelphia since regaining his amateur standing in 2007 after spending seven years trying to reach the PGA Tour.
He won a pair of GAP majors titles – the Middle-Amateur in 2009 and the Philadelphia Open in 2010. But he was thinking that in recent months, at the age of 45, “the good days were behind me.”
He managed, however, to excise those thoughts from his head Thursday in the final round of the Patterson Memorial Cup, charging from 7 strokes behind at Gulph Mills Golf Club with a 5-under-par 66 that gave him a 2-stroke victory in the 116th GAP major competition.
“It’s pretty awesome to think that I’ve won three of these majors against some really good players,” said Brown, who posted a 36-hole score of 4-under 138. “To win out here, you’re beating a lot of college kids and you’re beating a lot of seasoned veterans that know how to win.
“All golfers question themselves. I have some self-belief issues myself. So this is going to go a long way for me. It’s not going to last forever so I’m glad to get this one in ink.”
Brown, of LuLu Country Club, vaulted to the top of the leader board with a torrid stretch that saw him go 5-under from holes 7 through 12. He ended the run by draining a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-5 12th, getting him to 3-under par and a tie for the lead.
“A spectator told me coming off 12 that the lead was 3-under, and I was pretty surprised,” he said. “I was hoping optimistically the winning score would be 4-under. So that’s where I was setting my target. But it windy out there. I guess people moved back a little bit, which helped me out.”
As other contenders fell back, Brown parred his next five holes, getting a break with a tee shot at No. 15 that he said could have gone out of bounds but stayed in. He closed with a birdie on 18 for a 2-shot cushion and the championship.
Mark Farley, a recent Temple graduate from LuLu, matched Brown for best score of the day, a 66, and took second at 140. Merion’s Michael McDermott, the 2007 Patterson Cup champion, had a 71 to tie Adam Armagost of RiverWinds at 141.
In the Silver Cross competition, which counts cumulative score in the two rounds of Philadelphia Amateur qualifying and in the Patterson Cup, Ryan Rucinski of Hartefeld National had a 72-hole score of 1-over 286 to win by a stroke.