Olin Browne readily admits that he’s a golfer many people might not know much about.
"I’ve won a handful of tournaments, not that many, 10 or whatever in my professional career . . . 12 . . . whatever the number is. I don’t actually know what the number is. It’s not enough."
One number Browne did surely know Friday was the minus-9 round of 63 he recorded during the first day of the Allianz Championship being played on The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton. That gave Browne a two-stroke advantage over Kenny Perry and a three-shot margin over Tom Byrum, Marco Dawson and Scott McCarron.
Forgive Browne if he was pleased but not overly excited.
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That’s a basic code for professional golfers – don’t get too happy over good rounds and good shots, and don’t get too down over bad rounds and bad shots.
"Minus-9 is a great first day," Browne said philosophically, "but it is the first day."
In other words, there is plenty more work to do for Browne to win this PGA Tour Champions event for golfers over 50 years of age. He knows winning Allianz – or any event on the Tour Champions -- is not an easy task.
"You go out there and look at the leaderboard and it’s dotted with Hall of Famers and name players and great golfers," Browne, 57, said. "I mean really great golfers. So when you win a tournament, it means you did your business and you accomplished something.
"But there’s always plenty of room for improvement."
During his workmanlike career, Browne has won three times on the PGA Tour, four times on the Web.com Tour and twice on the PGA Tour Champions.
Not spectacular, unless you are interested in money, and who isn’t. Those victories alone, not including other professional wins and his sponsorships, have netted Browne $15,278,935.
Browne confessed that basically everything fell into place during his round Friday.
"I played a really nice round of golf today," he said. "I made two errant swings and I got away with both of them. Just happened to miss in the right place or got a fortunate break. Had a nice, clean card – nine birdies and no bogeys."
During one stretch in his round, Browne birdied eight out of nine holes.
"We like days like that," he said.
Browne also likes the fact that he lives in Tequesta, only 50 miles up the road from The Old Course.
"It is a home game," Browne said. "It’s awfully nice not to be lugging your stuff through the airports and dealing with the airlines and all that kind of nonsense."
Then Browne smiled and added, "It’s great to be going back home today. I’ll pop the cork on a bottle of wine, have a nice dinner and come back and do the same thing."
Easier said than done. Browne knows all-too-well that back-to-back 9-unders don’t happen too often.
The closest pursuer to Browne, Kenny Perry at 7-under 65, also was feeling pretty good about his round.
"I feel like the way I used to play," Perry said, "like I knew what I was doing out there.
"We’ll see. It’s one good round. I need to back it up with two more."
Other notable scores Friday were David Toms (67), Colin Montgomerie (68), Hale Irwin (68), Fred Couples (68), defending champion Esteban Toledo (69), Bernhard Langer (71) and John Daly (71).
Woods pulls out of Honda Classic
Tiger Woods will not be playing in the Honda Classic this season.
Woods, suffering from what he calls “ongoing back problems,” announced he will skip his next two tournaments, and that will include the Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens Feb. 23-26.
Woods withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic last week because of similar spasms.
So far this year, Woods has played three official rounds on the PGA Tour and European Tour.
Woods was scheduled to play the Genesis Open next week and the Honda the week after that, but he will skip both.
“My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down,” Woods posted on his website. “This is not what I was hoping for or expecting. I am extremely disappointed.”
So is Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly.
“Like everybody in golf, we continue to pull for Tiger to get back to being 100 percent healthy and playing the level of golf which he and all of us have enjoyed for two decades,” Kennerly said. “We look forward to his return from this setback.”
BILL VAN SMITH