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Poised Browne earns rare PGA win

NORTON, Mass. — Olin Browne no longer has to write letters to PGA Tour events begging for a tee time. He doesn't have to sweat out the final two months of the season, wondering if he'll earn enough money to keep his card.

Browne took care of all those worries Monday afternoon, when he emerged from a five-way tie for the lead and closed with a 4-under 67 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship by one shot over Jason Bohn.

"It's a little bit different feeling to start out with a lead and play with it all day long, and then finish it off," said Browne, who finished at 14-under 270. "I couldn't be happier about the way I played."

It was the third victory of his career and by far the most satisfying.

Not because of the $990,000 check, more than he has won in any of his previous 11 seasons. Not because the victory gave him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Not even because he is 46 and uncertain how many victories, if any, were left for him.

This was about validation.

Browne, who failed to keep his PGA Tour card the last two years, was so fed up with his game that he went to see Houston swing coach Jim Hardy some 18 months ago, determined to either improve or give up. It was a risky move at his age, with no time to waste.

It paid off in a big way on the TPC of Boston, where Browne was atop the leaderboard the final three days and kept his nose out front with a swing he could trust and a 15-foot birdie putt that all but clinched his victory.

"This validates a year and a half of busting my tail," he said.

When it was over, he was reminded of a line from Tom Hanks in the movie "A League of Their Own."

"Hard is what makes it good," he said.

Browne made this one look relatively easy. He built a three-shot lead on the back nine, saved par with a delicate chip that tumbled down a ridge to 5 feet on the 11th hole, and hit a 7-iron from an awkward lie into 15 feet on the 17th for a birdie that gave him a two-shot cushion.

The toughest part was waiting for Bohn to finish.

Bohn needed an eagle on the 18th hole to force a playoff, and gambled with a hybrid club out of the rough that sailed to the right of the green. His chip never had a chance, and his birdie gave him a 68.

"Today was a big stepping stone for me, playing in the final group, first time ever on the PGA Tour," Bohn said. "Even though I didn't come out on top, I still sucked it up and I played with a lot of heart."

Reno-Tahoe Open champion Vaughn Taylor shot a 68 to finish third at 10-under 274. Charles Howell III had a 67 and joined three others who finished another shot behind.

Tiger Woods, the first-round leader, was never a factor over the final three days. He shot 71 to tie for 40th.

"To be honest with you, I really don't care right now," Woods said. "I'm done. I've had a very long summer. I haven't taken hardly any days off this summer, so it will be nice to actually get some time off and let my mind and body just kind of heal."

DIVOTS: Tiger Woods got off to a slow start in more ways that one. He didn't show up on the first tee until 22 seconds before his twosome was announced.