Ireland’s Stephen Browne wrote his own piece of golfing history in Kazakhstan when he became the first winner of a professional golf tournament in the country, capping a magnificent week at the Nurtau Golf Club with a final round of three under 69 to take the title and the €40,000 first prize by a single stroke from a five strong group of players on 14 under that included his room-mate, Colm Moriarty.
Browne has, with his victory, brought his season back to life after spending the majority of the year on The European Tour where he struggled to find his best form after undergoing swing changes at the beginning of the year.
There was no evidence of poor golf in Kazakhstan however as he compiled four sub 70 rounds to secure the second Challenge Tour win of his career, ahead of Moriarty, England’s Lee James, Steven Jeppesen of Sweden, Spain’s Carl Suneson and England’s Tom Whitehouse.
The 31 year old Dubliner is now 22nd on the Challenge Tour Rankings, having started the week in 110th place, and has a great opportunity to retain his playing rights on The European Tour
“Some weeks you just get a great feeling and I think I had one this week," he said. "I opened up with a 66 and you are in the tournament from day one. That makes a difference, to be in amongst it from the first day.
“I do seem to play better on adrenaline and I was playing on it all week. It’s beyond my dreams this week to be honest. You really don’t think about turning up to an event and winning and I really hadn’t until around the 12th green today when I had a look at the scoreboard and Suneson was on top of it and I knew that I was better than him at that point. So I knew I was in the lead and I just had to keep it steady from there.
“I played the 17th a little too conservatively and then thought that I was going to have to make a birdie on the last to win because I was expecting Lee James in the group behind me to make a birdie on the 17th but he didn’t and I was eventually the winner. It feels great to have won, and be to the first winner of a professional golf event in the history of Kazakhstan will probably take a bit of time to sink in, but it is a fantastic honour.
“I have a lot of people to thank, none more so than my wife, Elaine and all of my sponsors – Bernie Carroll of Carroll Estates, Team Ireland, Cuisine de France and Citroen – who have all given me invaluable support.”
Browne fully intends to concentrate on the Challenge Tour for the rest of the season, and given his current form, he could well secure his European Tour card for next year in the Challenge Tour’s remaining three events of the season.
“I’m 22nd on the Rankings and have a chance of getting a really good card for the main Tour. I am two spots outside a card so I am going to go through the Challenge Tour.”