LOUISVILLE — Check the roll call of home-grown golfers who earned victories on the PGA Tour and almost all of them won the Kentucky Open on their way to the big time.
Gay Brewer, Frank Beard, Jodie Mudd, Ted Schulz, Steve Flesch and J.B. Holmes all used the state open as a stepping stone to the green, green grass of the PGA Tour.
Brandon Brown hopes that is in his future, too, after winning the 92nd PowerBilt Kentucky Open championship at Persimmon Ridge on Thursday.
Brown, who's proven himself with three victories on the Hooters Tour this year, returned home this week hoping to add his name to the state's most prestigious golf trophy.
The 29-year-old Shelbyville native did it in impressive style, shooting 67-69-67 for a 13-under total of 203, four shots ahead of Blake Watts.
"It's an honor to win this," Brown said. "It's why I came back, especially this close to home. I had a bunch of family and friends come out and that made it even better."
Brown began the final round with a six-shot lead over Watts and Jesse Massie.
Watts said his goal was "to make it a golf tournament. I didn't want (Brown) to run away with it. I did it. I played well and gave him all I had."
That was an understatement. Watts, who shot a course-record 65 on Tuesday before struggling to a 77 on Wednesday, had another 65 on Thursday.
Watts rolled in his eighth birdie of the day — a 25-foot- snake — at the 16th hole to briefly cut Brown's lead to one shot. But then Brown stepped up and poured in a 20-foot birdie on top of it to keep his two-shot lead.
Did Brown have a sense of urgency there?
"Yeah, I did," he said.
Watts still felt he had a chance, though, with the difficult 17th and 18th left.
But Brown slammed the door by chipping in for a birdie on the 17th before Watts took a bogey.
Persimmon Ridge, usually one of the most challenging courses in the state, hosted a birdie-fest in the final round, at least for the last group.
Brown, Watts and Massie combined for 22 birdies.
But Massie's seven-birdie output didn't add up to much. He also had four bogeys and a double bogey to card a 71.
It was a good week for the Newcomb brothers.
Nicklaus Newcomb, a mini-tour pro from Marshall County, shot 70-213 to tie Massie for third place.
Newcomb's younger brother Patrick, who won the State Amateur at Kearney Hill Links in June, shot 68-215 to tie Tyler Sharpe of Greensburg for low-amateur honors.
Brown, runner-up in last year's Kentucky Open, got $10,000 for his victory. That's a nice addition to the $115,600 he has won on the Hooters Tour this year.
He said winning, no matter on what level, boosts his confidence as he gears up for PGA Tour qualifying tournaments later this year.
Brown won a Hooters event in Georgetown at Cherry Blossom in May, and now he's won the Kentucky Open title. Both times he's had a couple dozen family and friends rooting him on.
"I seem to get it done when they're with me. Maybe they can come out on the road a little more," he said with a smile.