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Looking back at Mark Brooks’ lone major in 1996

Looking back at Mark Brooks’ lone major in 1996

Although he raised the Wanamaker Trophy at Valhalla Golf Club in 1996, the seed for the first and only major championship in the long and storied career of Mark Brooks came on the opposite side of the continent in a moment the Texan would just as soon forget.

After the third round of the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Brooks was hot, the University of Texas product using a 69 on Saturday to march up the leaderboard and trail leader Gil Morgan by just one heading into the final 18 holes of play.

Brooks had three PGA Tour victories under his belt at this point: the 1988 Canon Sammy Davis Jr.-Greater Hartford Open and a pair of wins in 1991 at the K-Mart Greater Greensboro Open and Greater Milwaukee Open. But aside from a top-5 finish at the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah, he’d yet to get into serious contention at a major.

With the winds whipping like they often can on the Monterey Peninsula, Brooks folded in the final round, posting two double-bogeys on the front nine and finishing with an 84 that dropped him down the leaderboard. Fellow Texan Tom Kite navigated the blustery conditions and went on to win the title.

Brooks persevered after the devastation, and a lesson was learned. While major moments offer major rewards, it’s often just as important to relax and focus on the individual moments as it is to get caught up in the grandeur.
“That was my crash-and-burn majors experience,” Brooks said. “You realize it’s truly not life and death, right? It’s damn near it. But it’s truly not life and death. I think if you look back on a lot of guys, a lot of them went through something. The Watson meltdown at Carnoustie. You know, everybody probably had a meltdown somewhere.

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“So I went in after that and made an assessment. Why did I break down? Most of the time it was because it had something to do with the way you were thinking. I didn’t adjust to the situation properly. They call them halftime adjustments, and when a guy doesn’t make the right halftime adjustments, you’re probably going to get your butt kicked. So that was all part of the learning process. And for me, that all came at Pebble Beach.”

The pain didn’t subside quickly. Brooks, now 63, admitted to feeling the gut punch after his final-round debacle for a lengthy stretch.

“It took several months. You’re doubting yourself. You don’t think you’re good enough,” Brooks said. “But I got to play with the winner,…


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