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England's Mike Browne takes historic G4D title deep in heart of Texas

5 Min Read



    Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62

    This week’s CJ Cup Byron Nelson PGA TOUR event in McKinney, Texas, can only hope to play host to a finish that rivals the exciting ending to the Golf 4 Disabilities (G4D) Tour event that preceded it at TPC Craig Ranch.

    England’s Mike Browne made pars on his last three holes on Tuesday to hold off the Tour’s top-ranked player, Kipp Popert of England, and capture his third G4D Tour title by one stroke. Browne came home in 2-under 34 to shoot 73, finishing 36 holes at level-par 144. His score was one better than Popert, who had begun the day sharing the lead with Browne after an opening 71, and Spain’s Juan Postigo Arce, an amazing talent who competes on one leg and shot 71, tying the day’s low round.

    G4D Tour participants at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson

    Popert was one of four players who either held or was tied for the lead across a tightly contested final round at TPC Craig Ranch, which plays host to this week’s TOUR event beginning on Thursday. Popert was trying to land his 11th championship on the All-Abilities circuit.

    For historical purposes, this week marked the first official G4D Tour stop in the United States, one of nine stops on the 2024 circuit, and the 10 highly ranked players (eight men, two women) who attended from across the globe enjoyed the experience and hope that there will be more to follow.

    Browne, 46, spent 13 years as a gunner in the British Army’s Royal Artillery in a previous life. He broke his left leg in a training exercise more than a decade ago, and figured he would be back to his normal life in a matter of weeks. But the leg became badly infected, in part because it had more than 50 wires running through it. He endured more than 30 operational procedures and “two years of hell and pure pain.”

    With his left leg straightened and braced, there was little that Browne could do day-to-day. He could not drive, could not fly, had great difficulty trying to negotiate stairs and his overall quality of life plummeted. He said he contemplated ending his life by jumping out a second-story hospital window – if only his annoying leg brace would have allowed him to fit through it.

    He ended up viewing a random poster promoting golf as an outlet for the disabled, and thought he’d try it once he made the astute decision to simplify his life by amputating the leg. He now plays using a prosthetic.

    Mike Browne now plays golf with a prosthetic leg. (Getty Images)

    Mike Browne now plays golf with a prosthetic leg. (Getty Images)

    Browne had one of those early moments when first starting to hit golf balls on a range when he flushed a shot and got that "feel." The game just grabbed him. It hasn’t let him go, either, which is fortunate. He wakes up each day with goals, and golf gives him something to do. Browne, in fact, credits the game for not only changing his life, but saving it.

    In an interview with the EDGA (organized in 2000, and formally known as the European Disabled Golf Association), Browne said of golf: “It gave me confidence. It just saved my life, really.”

    He explained, “A lot of people think their life is over when they get injured, but I’m not the same. ‘That life’ (pre-injury) is done; I’ve got a new one now. Let’s make the most of it. That’s what I’m doing, and that’s what I’ve done."

    Lachlan Wood (Australia), who overcame a horrendous car accident and spent five years away from golf before finding his way back, had opened with 72, and when he birdied the seventh and ninth holes, he moved into the lead midway through the final round. When Wood made two early bogeys on his back nine, Popert, Postigo Arce and Browne passed him at the top, all getting to even par shortly after the turn.

    Browne got back in it with birdies at Nos. 10, 13 and 14. Postigo Arce, playing up ahead, birdied the 12th and 14th holes. Popert was heating up, too; he birdied three of his first four holes on his second nine. Brendan Lawlor of Ireland, a consistent contender among G4D competitors, made his own late move by shooting 3-under 33 on his final nine, but fell two shots shy of Browne, tying for fourth with Wood.

    In the end, Browne, whose strength is his driving, just proved a tad steadier, and that showed in his finish. After a bogey at the par-3 15th, he was mistake-free, doing what he had to do by making pars to win. It was his second big win in months, coming on the heels of winning the G4D Tour Season Finale in Dubai the week of the DP World World Tour Championship.

    In Dubai, Browne posed on the 18th green with his G4D champion's trophy alongside Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard, the tournament champion, and Rory McIlroy, who captured the Race to Dubai. Browne marvels at the experiences that golf has given him.

    From left to right, Mike Browne (winner of the 2023 DP World G4D Tour), Rory McIlroy (winner of the 2023 DP World Tour Race to Dubai) and Nicolai Højgaard (winner of the 2023 DP World Tour Championship. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

    From left to right, Mike Browne (winner of the 2023 DP World G4D Tour), Rory McIlroy (winner of the 2023 DP World Tour Race to Dubai) and Nicolai Højgaard (winner of the 2023 DP World Tour Championship. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

    At his lowest point, when he figured he could take no more pain and all his social skills had vanished, Browne remembers sitting in his hospital bed and crying for three days straight. He knew he needed help, and that was the point he finally would ask for it. And then his life would take a starkly different turn when he saw a single golf poster.

    On Tuesday in Texas, that time seemed so long ago.

    Golf saved my life in that aspect,” he said. “It gave me everything that I was missing. It gave me purpose.”

    On Tuesday, it gave him a great victory, and a small piece of history as the first G4D player to win an official Tour event in the United States. Best yet: At 46, Browne believes he is just getting started.

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