Browne takes on Cabrera

By Brian Keogh

Fit again Stephen Browne says he's ready to go from crock to crack shot this season.

Feeling tip-top after a knee operation, the Dubliner can finally bend down to read a putt without feeling like an old man.

Now 34, the singing swinger reckons it's time to make his mark on the pro game and take his place on European Tour.

But he'll need to be at the top of his form on his 2008 debut as he faces US Open champion Angel Cabrera in the $200,000 Abierto del Centro in Argentina this week.

Browne said: "I'm physically perfect and champing at the bit to get going. The operation went really well and I almost couldn't tell you which knee it was.

"I can properly get down and read a putt now for the first time in about three years.

"Before that I was giving it a Seniors Tour half-glance. It's great to be able to get down and have no pain getting back up again."

A trained opera singer, Browne reckons he's never been fitter or better prepared to hit the high notes.

But he'll need to be right on song if he's to outshine home hero Cabrera in this week's Challenge Tour event in Cordoba.

Former caddie Cabrera is going for his fourth win in a row and a record eighth victory at the club where he learnt the game.

As he builds up to the Masters, Cabrera said: "The Abierto del Centro is huge for me and it gives me great pleasure to play it."

Browne didn't turn professional until he was 27 and while he earned his 2005 European Tour card through the Q-School, he failed to hold onto it and has struggled to make an impact.

His decision to leave Florida-based coach Jimmy Ballard and take on Rathsallagh swing guru Brendan McDaid last season has worked wonders for his confidence.

And he reckons that while it isn't a "now or never" situation, he may never be better prepared to push for his card through the top-10 on the 2008 Challenge Tour rankings.

Feeling good about his game, Browne said: "Golf is a pretty simple game and when you are 34 years of age you are not going to make dramatic changes in your swing.

"This is the best position I have been in to do well in seven years. There is a little extra pressure the older you get because you can't keep on playing the Challenge Tour forever.

"Physically now I feel much better and my swing and short game feel the best it has ever felt.

"I feel it is the year that I really can make that jump. I definitely feel that this is the year to do it.

"It's easily the best I have every felt physically. In September last year I just didn't feel good physically but I just feel so much better now than I have ever done.

"It's not it is now or never. It is not as if I am going to sing an Elvis song. But it is a good year to put it all together.

"I am not saying it is my last year. But it could be my year."

Browne is joined in Argentina Horizon Sports stablemates David Higgins, Michael Hoey, Colm Moriarty and Gareth Maybin.

The Irish quintet will play also next week's Argentina Open before heading back to Europe.