Kentuckian Brown leads 'amazing talent' into Georgetown golf tourney

GEORGETOWN — Hooters Tour golf is like NASCAR.

You better keep your foot on the accelerator or somebody will blow by you.

Brandon Brown of Shelbyville, one of the top players on the Hooters Tour this year, can appreciate that analogy.

In last week's tournament at Kodak, Tenn., Brown shot 64-66 and at 14-under par led after two rounds. He slowed to a 69 on the third day, but still shared the top spot on the leader board.

In Sunday's final round, however, David Skinns roared home with a 64 and left everybody eating his divots as he finished 22-under to take the River Islands Classic title.

Brown, who closed with a 71, tied for third place.

"It's a different mindset out here, knowing you've gotta shoot something like 20-under to win," Brown said. "If you shoot 69 one round, most of the time you're moving backward instead of ahead.

"You've gotta keep making as many birdies as you can."

Brown, 28, a former Eastern Kentucky University golfer, will bring that pedal-to-the-metal attitude to this week's Cherry Blossom Classic.

It's worked well for him this season. He won the rain-shortened Hooters tournament in Gainesville, Fla., in late March, and he had a third-place finish in Ocala, Fla.

Brown ranks fourth on the tour money list with $47,561.

"It's amazing, the talent out here," Brown said. "You see guys all the time going from here to the PGA or Nationwide tours.

"It's just a matter of getting the breaks and being confident when you're in that situation."

Brown hopes to put himself in a winning situation this weekend. He should have good vibes, considering how he played here last year.

After taking seven months off from competitive golf, Brown returned to action at Cherry Blossom last May and shot 64-67-68-69—268 to finish 20 under and in a tie for fourth.

Late last year Brown came within a shot of making it to the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying, and he's continued to play well this spring.

Obviously, he's got his game on the right track.

Brown said the key has been focusing on the present.

"My emotions used to be up and down. Any time I was playing well, I was looking ahead. When I wasn't playing as well I'd get down on myself. Now I realize every shot means something, so I try to stay in the moment."

Brown is one of several Kentuckians playing the Cherry Blossom Classic.

Former University of Kentucky golfer Mark Blakefield, a Maysville native, has to be considered one of the favorites, even though he hasn't had much success qualifying for Nationwide events this season, and he's only played sparingly on the Hooters Tour.

Blakefield, who won at Cherry Blossom in 2008 and 2010, and had a top-10 finish last year, said "it's always fun to come back here. There's definitely good feelings."

Former UK standout Ben Fuqua of Danville turned pro last August, and this will be only his second stroke-play tournament this year.

He "knocked the rust off" in a mini-tour event in Georgia last week, and he got a confidence boost by shooting a 71 at Idle Hour Country Club on Monday to make it through the first stage of qualifying for next month's U.S. Open.

More than a dozen other Kentuckians are in the Cherry Blossom field, including two-time State Amateur champ Jordan Blann and former Kentucky Open titlist Matt Savage.