Browne no kamikaze kid

By Brian Keogh

Stephen Browne has vowed to control his Kamikaze Kid tendencies at the Qualifying School this week.

The attack-minded Dubliner, 33, knows he can't afford to go for the spectacular and still survive the six-round marathon at San Roque in southern Spain.

If he's to get one of 30 European Tour cards on offer, he has to play golf by numbers golf to attain his goal.

And after earning his card through the Q-School in 2004, Browne tees it up on Thursday with Colm Moriarty, Mick McGeady, Damian Mooney and amateur Peter O'Keeffe knowing exactly what he has to do.

Browne said: "It doesn't take any kamikaze type golf or going for glory from the first tee. If you play solid golf for six rounds you will get through it. I try to play steady golf - not boring golf - but conservative golf.

"You don't want any disasters or to be taking on any risky shots, certainly early in the week. You just have to finish in the top 30 and try and treat it as much like a normal week as possible."

Browne failed to hold on to his tour card through the money list in 2005 but still earned his place alongside the big guns in 2006 thanks to his win in the Challenge Tour's Kazakhstan Open.

He lost his card again at the end of 2006 but after hitting a rich vein of form on the Challenge Tour recently, he's confident he has what to takes to get back on tour again.

Reflecting on his improvement as a player, Browne said: "I have learnt an awful lot since 2004. When I went to the tour my game just wasn't quite good enough so I went to a coach called Jimmy Ballard in Florida to try and improve my long game.

"Jimmy is a great coach, but maybe going to Florida wasn't the best decision and I suppose I was a little confused about the swing as well.

"So I changed coach this year and went to Brendan McDaid and my golf has really improved since then.

"I have a lot of direction from Brendan and it has freed me up to work on other parts of my game."

Browne has won twice on the Challenge Tour since he turned professional but believes he is now a far steadier player than 27-year-old rookie who hit the pro ranks in 2001.

He came to golf late in life, turning his back on a steady job in banking after his breakthrough win at the 2001 European Amateur Championship.

Now he's ready to step up and win his card for the third time and keep it.

He said: "Since I got my card in 2004 I have changed as a player. I have had ups and downs but I have also become a much steadier golfer and I can compete more often at the top level.

"The experience of struggling on the main tour for two years is something you can't buy. It is not great while you are doing it but as long as you learn it is well worth it.

"I know what it takes to be a top golfer or at least a good golfer on the main tour. If I get the opportunity again I will definitely be better prepared.

"I have had a few train wrecks and come back from them and you have to be in a good place mentally to do that.

"I am a glass is half full type of guy and you have to be like that or you don't have a chance."

Getting your his card back is his mission this week and he's feeling good about his chances after a late charge up the Challenge Tour rankings at the end of the season.

Never a player to plod along making par, Browne was struggling on the Challenge Tour this season before a late run of form earned him a ticket to the Q-School Finals.

Top finishes in Spain, France and Germany left him needing a top-two finish in the last event to qualify for the Challenge Tour's Grand Final and avoid the second stage of the Q-School.

And he pulled it off in amazing fashion when he birdied two of the last three holes and looked on as one of his rivals closed with a triple bogey seven.

Determined to ride his wave of good form, Browne believes it is all about controlling his adrenaline this week.

He said: "Right from the first tee shot onwards, it is not so much nerves as adrenaline. I remember being pretty nervous when I did get my card in 2004, coming down the last few holes because I knew I was inside the cards.

"But that's what you play golf for. You want to feel under pressure because you know you are doing reasonably well."

Browne and Moriarty played both the Old and New Courses at San Roque under the watchful eye of coach McDaid last week.

And Browne is confident that he has the form to take advantage when the action starts on Thursday.

He said: "I've been in contention six of the last seven events so I have played a lot of good golf as well.

"The great thing is the be fresh for this because it really is a marathon and you need to be mentally fresh for it.

"After getting in contention six of the last seven weeks, my game is exactly where you want to be. When I am in the zone my game is good enough but I need to do it week in, week out."