Despite Fatigue, Browne To Play 3M Championship
Sports Fan Insider
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Olin Browne is looking forward to a home-cooked meal next week.
He has spent 12 weeks on the road playing on the Champions Tour or serving as a television analyst during the U.S. Open and British Open.
“I’m tired, but it’s a really good tired,” Browne said Wednesday at the TPC Twin Cities, site of this week’s 3M Championship.
Three days earlier, the 52-year-old Browne won the U.S. Senior Open Championship by three shots.
“I’m still foggy about what’s been happening, I haven’t slept a lot,” he said. “I came right up here and I’m just trying to catch up.”
Browne is likely not alone when it comes to the fatigue factor.
With three majors in a five-week span, it wouldn’t have been surprising for some of the top Champions Tour players to take this week off. Instead, a full field is expected for the tournament.
Besides last week’s event, The Senior Open Championship was held two weeks ago in England. The players have next week off before the Senior Players Championship.
“That wears on you,” Browne said. “I’m really, really looking forward to going home next week.”
Whether it’s the course where players have shot low scores in recent years or some of the biggest galleries on tour, the 3M Championship has become a must-play event for the top golfers of the 50-and-over set. For the third straight year, admission is free.
“It’s a fantastic field again,” said Bernhard Langer, who chipped in on 18 to win the event two years ago.
Defending champion David Frost established a tournament scoring record with a 25-under 191 total last year, including a final-round 61. Mark Calcavecchia finished five shots back. The average winning score the last six years is minus-18.
Scores could be that low again.
The course received more than 1.5 inches of rain overnight Saturday, six-tenths of an inch Monday, and another quarter-inch Tuesday.
“If there are soft greens out here, look for guys to make a ton of birdies,” said Browne, who tied for eighth last year at 15 under. “Guys do go deep here.”
Most players refuse to predict a winning number.
“It’s all relative to how you play,” said David Eger, ninth in the season-long points race.
Fred Couples — returning to competitive golf after missing two months with a back injury — is scheduled to play the tournament for the first time, as is Minnesota native Tom Lehman, who is the course architect along with Arnold Palmer. Lehman is a three-time tour winner in 2011.
“You always want to play the best,” Langer said.
Brad Faxon, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour who turned 50 on Monday, is scheduled to make his Champions Tour debut this weekend.
“There’s not many places people look forward to turning 50,” said Faxon, who has struggled on the PGA Tour the past few years. “This is a fresh start. … It’s kind of a rebirth.”
Browne hopes the week is another step in ending his up-and-down season. He finished in the top eight in five straight tournaments early in the season, but was better than 23rd just twice in his next nine starts.
His iron play was better last week, and he made a tweak when hitting his driver.
“It feels great,” he said. “It certainly motivates me to continue doing what I’m doing so that I can do that or be able to do that more frequently. … You get so few opportunities to do something like that, that, to me, the important thing was to embrace the challenge and do the very best I could.”
How does he keep it going?
“I’ll let you know on the weekend,” he said with a slight smile. “I’m trying to get some rest, I’m having a hard time doing that. My phone is ringing off the hook and I’ve gotten a lot of emails. I’m trying to respond to all those people. It’s really nice that people take the time, and I want to make sure I get back to them.”
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