By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s not exactly sure when he’ll be back to 100 percent, but golfer Cullan Brown of Lyon County cannot wait to start his collegiate career at Kentucky.
He had to withdraw from a tournament in Branson, Mo., last week before the final round after playing well enough in the American Junior Golf Association event to be in the top five.
“After about 15 or 16 holes, fatigue starts to sit in. Each day I play, that point comes a little earlier,” said Brown. “I got in about 90 holes of golf the week we were in Branson — the most I have played since October. We thought I would be lucky to get through the tournament, so we just took a shot in the dark I would make it and I almost did.”
He believes he hurt his hand playing in a tournament in California in February. It took several months to get a proper diagnosis on what was causing the pain and he had surgery in early May. He’s still not sure of an exact timetable when he’ll be 100 percent but he anticipates having no problems in a couple of months.
“It’s just a process building the muscles back in my hand. The (UK) coaches are very understanding of my situation and will make sure I get in my practice without prolonging the agony,” Brown said.
Brown was the 2016 state high school champion — the first ever for Lyon County. He was also second in both 2015 and 2017. He was also a Rolex Junior All-American and a three-time Kentucky Junior Masters champion. He played for Team USA in the Evian Junior Cup Championship in France.
Before his injury, he says the strongest part of his game was being a “strong driver” off the tee. He described himself as an “aggressive” player who hit long drives with a big swing. He worked on his driving accuracy and says when he was on, he could shoot low scores.
“Coming back from this injury, I have had to rebuild my game and it’s a little different now,” Brown said. “I am not quite as aggressive. I rely more on good iron shots, a solid short game and good putting. I am not trying to drive quite as aggressively. I am trying to drive the ball where pars can be a given.
“My game now is not as dependent on aggressive swings. I am not making wild swings, staying more under control. That’s the type game you have to have to be successful nationally at any level. It’s hard to be super aggressive and be successful consistently. It’s a lesson a lot of young golfers have to learn and it took me longer than most but surgery did that for me. Golf is not a game you can overpower very often. You have to learn to take big numbers out of play, and I’m doing that now.”
Brown says his injury could turn out to be a blessing for him because it has forced him to become a more consistent golfer who takes fewer chances.
“I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to learn and accept that if I had not been injured,” Brown said.
LPGA Tour rookie Emma Talley has no doubts Brown would have figured out how to be successful at any level. They live only about five miles apart — she’s from Caldwell County — and she’s been a mentor to him during his prep career on his way to UK and then hopefully the PGA Tour.
“I am excited for him. He is a great kid, a great friend and he is going to do great at UK,” Talley, who won three high school state titles and a NCAA title at Alabama, said. “He can play on tour. I’m 100 percent sure about that. He has the mind for it. I wish I had his mind.
“He has the best mind for golf, is a good player and works hard. His ACT score beats me by a lot. He’s a really smart kid, and a really good kid.”