27th – 29th October, 2023, Thurgoona Country Club

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HAYES: Hard Graft Bears Fruit for Green

Whether it’s regarded as kosher by his new peers matters not to Richard Green.

The newly minted New South Wales Senior Open champion is on a Champions Tour mission and he’s prepared to buck a few conventions to kick that goal.

Green began this week’s three-day tournament at Thurgoona with a quality 67, but wasn’t particularly thrilled with his second-round 71 that left him the mountain he duly climbed today with a spectacular closing 66. 

With the possible exception of the indefatigable Peter Fowler, nobody on the Legends Tour would have even considered Green’s actions to ensure he was back in the groove to do that this morning.

Truth be told, maybe “Greeny” wouldn’t have gone through with it had his caddie, coach and now great mate Darrell Brown not been with him at the time.

Brown, a former tour player and a legend of the Geelong golf scene, has forged a great reputation as a mentor; his younger prodigy Deyen Lawson, for example, winning last week’s WA Open in Perth.

Green – based at 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula – and Brown, though, have been working on this goal since they teamed up more than five years ago.

And now – with goal almost at touching distance – was no time to slack off.

So “Browny” takes up the story of what happened after the second round …

“We played at 7.30am, so had an our warm-up before that, had our round, then did 40 minutes on the putting green,” Brown said.

“We went back to the hotel room, he went to the gym for an hour, then we sat around for an hour and he said let’s go to Howlong (Golf Club, 40km west of Thurgoona).

“So we went and he did two and a half hours of hitting balls – that’s pretty keen.

“He did say had I not been there he might have sat on his arse and watched Supercars all afternoon,” Brown joked of his pupil who has a famous penchant for racing cars.

“So we were just fluffing around with his Trackman, he hit on bit of a feel, said, `That feels really good’, we went back to the room, pizza, beer sleep, out again and into it.”

Not sure that day is in any high performance manual.

But it certainly does ring true with legends on this circuit – such as Lonard, Fowler, Harwood and Senior – who have all made world-class careers based on the “grind”.

And with Green and Brown starting to see dividends for their hard toil – remember that Green is a three-time European Tour winner who has won the Australian Masters and a Vic Open – he might just be better placed than ever to succeed on the rich American version of our senior circuit.

“Browny’s helped me immensely and we’ve both had the same goal and passion and he’s selflessly helping me get where I want to get,” Green said with more than a hint of emotion.

“I couldn’t ask for a better coach.

“It’s unreal the stuff we’ve done together. He’s keeping me inspired and accountable with my game and it’s what I need at the moment.”

Many have watched Green through 25 years of elite golf, but if they haven’t watched recently, there are shots being routinely attempted now that are better – both tactically and physically – than any time previously.

And he’s as eager as he was aged 25.

The perfect example of this is the tough par-3 second hole at Thurgoona Country Club that plays uphill and longer than its listed 175m and features a shallow-ish landing area over a bunker today to its toughest back left pin position.

“I hit a (drawn) 4-iron into the second hole to about four feet today, one of the best shots I’ve hit in my life,” Green said of the shot that kick-started his victory charge.

“And I couldn’t have done that without what we did last night. I’m really happy to be able to pull something like that off when I need to.

Richard Green and his coach, Darrell Brown with the NSW Senior Open Trophy

“I’ve set a goal to get on to the Champions Tour and perform at that level and it’s something I’m not going to stop until I have that goal achieved in my life.

“I’ve got to stay on the button and keep working and this week is part of my confidence building to be able to perform in America when I need to.

“I said to Browny, I think I’ve realised that golf is simple … you need to give 100 per cent to every shot, everything you’ve got.

“If your attitude is in the right place and focus is on the right things, you’ll do well.

“I’m in a place in my life that I’m able to focus and play golf and enjoy it and I couldn’t be happier. It’s great.”

Brown said there was no ceiling on the next phase of Green’s career.

“He says he’s playing better than he ever has.

“But he’s been working his arse off more than he has … and more than he lets on for that matter,” he said.

“He’s highly motivated about trying to get on the Champions Tour and what he did yesterday sort of shows what he’ll do to achieve it.

“There are five cards and he’s got to get through two stages to get one of them, but he’ll be as prepared as he could possibly be, that’s the good thing.

“With a little bit of luck, provided he makes it, his game is good enough if he gets on that he’ll do really well.”

Whether his motivation catches on across the Legends Tour, that might well be a different story.

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