Date: December 11, 2008
Author: Steve Orme, Sportal

Money list no distraction for Brown

New Zealander Mark Brown says clinching the Australasian Tour Order of Merit title at this week&aposs season-ending Australian Open is the furthest thing from his mind. Brown fired an impressive opening round 67 to share the early lead with fellow Kiwi David Smail who also took advantage of the calm conditions early on day one. The softly spoken 33-year-old currently heads the money list ahead of Rod Pampling and Geoff Ogilvy thanks largely to his win at the co-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic in February. And while he admits finishing atop the money tree would be a big achievement, the European Tour regular vowed not to lose focus on the demanding Royal Sydney layout. “Up in Asia I was leading that Order of Merit for a long time and just felt it became too important and I was thinking about it too much,” Brown said. “And at the end of the day you can&apost do anything about it when somebody from behind plays well.” “Jeev (Milkha Singh) won the Singapore Open to seal the (Asian Tour) Order of Merit and just showed me that someone can win this week and take it all away, so all I can do is try and play well and obviously the goal is to win.” “It was just nice to get off to a good start, hopefully I can have a good solid week and if we end up on top on Sunday it&aposll be great news.” Meanwhile, Smail, who partnered Brown in the recent World Cup, admitted his opening round efforts around the Rose Bay layout had caught him off guard. “It was a little bit unexpected, I haven&apost been playing that well lately but last week I finished second at the Japan Series (Cup), our last tournament of the year (on the Japanese Tour) so that was good,” Smail said. “It&aposs nice to get to get back to that sort of tight golf course where length isn&apost the most important thing – that suits my game.” Asked to account for the strong showing offered up by the Kiwi contingent on Thursday, Smail hailed 2008 a successful year for New Zealand golf. “I think on the whole it&aposs been a pretty good year for the New Zealand professionals, Mark Brown obviously winning the Johnnie Walker (Classic) and winning again in India a couple of weeks before that,” he said. “(Current US Amateur Champion) Danny Lee&aposs doing what he&aposs doing as well and Cambo (Michael Campbell) is sort of coming back and started to play well towards the end of the year.”