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Young Gun Blades Brown Shines Bright on Big Stage

When 16-year-old Blades Brown shot a 31 on his final nine holes Friday afternoon to make the cut at the Myrtle Beach Classic, it was a feel-good moment for the inaugural event. After a flawless third round 66 at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Brown made himself a competitive story.

Brown capped a bogey-free Saturday with a 13-foot birdie putt on the par 4 18th hole, drawing a roar from the gallery and a small fist pump from one of the game’s most heralded juniors.

The Nashville resident was 1-under on the front before catching fire over a stretch that began when he hit his approach on the short par 4 10th hole to 4 feet and converted the birdie putt. After rolling in a 17-footer for a birdie two on the 12th, Brown stuffed his approach from 106 yards to three feet on the par 5 13th, fueling his climb up the leaderboard.

“I didn’t really have any expectations of myself today, and I was able to go out and play free and focused golf,” he said. “I was pretty much on cruise control today. I wish I could have more days like this when golf just feels really easy. It was a lot of fun.”

Brown, who played in Myrtle Beach twice earlier this year at the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship (TPC Myrtle Beach) and the Elite Invitational (Tradition Club), has enjoyed the week’s largest galleries, with kids and adults following the phenom’s progress.

“It’s been so much fun,” he said of his Myrtle Beach Classic experience. “My dad, he’s having a blast just messing around with everybody. But just the environment. After I got acclimated to everything — the only big environment I’ve ever really been around was the U.S. Amateur. There were a lot of people there but nowhere near to how many people are here.

“You can only get this experience playing in a tournament like this. Everyone’s support is phenomenal. I’m so stoked to be here.”

Fans have been equally excited to have Brown in the field. He’s had a group of teenagers following him all week, periodically chanting his name, and he has signed everything from someone’s forehead to four golf shoes and handed out countless fist bumps to fans lining the ropes.

Brown’s willingness to engage with his admirers is motivated by an experience he enjoyed with one of his golfing heroes.

“I’m trying to act the way that Jordan Spieth did to me that one time just because I know it’s so little for me to do that to some little kid,” Brown said. “But I know to that kid it means the world because that’s what it was like for me.

“That was the 2018 Masters practice round. It was the 18 tee shot. He bent down, talked to me, asked my name, made me feel like I was his friend. That’s the gift of influence. For him, that was just saying hi to a little kid, but to me, for a person of his caliber and his decoration, it meant the world.”

While Saturday’s round showcased Brown’s talent, making the cut was a testament to his resilience. He entered the final nine holes at 1-over par, three above the cutline, after a dispiriting bogey on the Dunes Club’s 18th hole (Brown’s ninth).

Needing to find his game to play on the weekend, Brown thanked a higher power for the opportunity and stepped on the gas.

“I said a little prayer, ‘God, thank you for putting me in this position,’” he said. “After that, I was like let’s do this.”

He birdied two of the next three holes, but the sophomore in high school showed mettle that is at least the equal of his talent on the par 5 fourth hole (his 13th).

After driving the ball in the left rough, Brown went for the green in two, but his 3-wood came up short in the water. He took a drop and hit his next shot over the green, leaving him in a world of trouble 10 yards from the hole.

“I was like alright, this is a make-or-break moment and then I chipped in for par,” Brown said. “That was a game-changer right there.”

He birdied the sixth and seventh holes to make the cut by one, setting up his Saturday charge.

Now 54 holes into his pro debut, Brown has gone from fighting to make the cut to having an outside chance to earn a top 10 finish, but he isn’t putting any pressure on himself heading into Sunday.

“Yes, it would be nice to shoot another 5-under or 6-under tomorrow,” he said. “It could happen. But I’m 16 playing in a PGA TOUR event, so I’m just stoked to be here.”

(Blades Brown on Instagram)