Rarely have I been more delighted for anybody than I was when hearing of Stephen Browne’s maiden success on the Challenge Tour.
Stephen’s win in the Norwegian Open was a triumph for patience, endurance, courage and skill because he has had to wait quite a while to prove that he had the ability to turn potential into something more tangible.
The former European amateur champion’s progress over the last three or four years has been gradual rather than spectacular, but his sponsor, property businessman Bernie Carroll, has stood by him throughout and last weekend’s win was a reward for both of them.
Stephen’s 62 during the recent JJB Sports event on the feeder tour and a couple of visits to the fringes of contention had everybody believing that a breakthrough was approaching. When it came he closed the deal like an old pro. A closing 67 was good enough for a three-shot win and a cheque for E16,800.
The win took him to 25th in the rankings and he needs to improve by 10 places to gain entry to the main European Tour next season. Failing that, he is exempt to final qualifying for Tour School after his career-changing week.
As his text said to me after his win: ’My singing career is definitely on hold’.
Things didn’t quite work out as hoped for defending champion Darren Clarke at the NEC Invitational in Akron, but he made a creditable defence while Lee Westwood’s top 10 finish moved him to 40th in the world rankings and a more secure place inside the all-important top 50.
Paul McGinley did enough to make life more uncomfortable for the players behind him and immediately in front on the Ryder Cup standings. It will be an interesting week now in Germany before Europe’s team is finalised.
Finally, many congratulations to Michael Vaughan and his record-breaking England side after their 4-0 whitewash of the Windies. Freddie Flintoff also won Man of the Series. His heroics have led to an invitation to appear on the Michael Parkinson Show.