Having watched the New Zealand Open lead slip through his fingers during the final round, Mark Brown was left to ponder an off-day on the greens at Clearwater yesterday.

The Lower Hutt professional had 33 putts during his final round as the three-stroke lead he held overnight evaporated.

Australian amateur Jake Higginbottom claimed the Open with a one-stroke win ahead of compatriots Jason Norris and Peter Wilson.

Brown's one-over 73 yesterday saw him slip to fourth overall at four-under and the 37-year-old was devastated after he walked off the 18th green.


"I played well enough. I played beautifully for the first 10 holes. I didn't miss a shot, really, and only holed one putt," Brown said.

"I had 33 putts for the day, so that's never going to win a golf tournament and probably proves you can't win a golf tournament with your long game. You're going to have to hole a few putts and today that didn't happen. It was frustrating because it seems to be happening quite a bit lately."

After having only 28 putts in his third round, when he fired a six-under 66, Brown was disappointed to see his putting desert him when it mattered most.

"I just couldn't start them on line so there's probably a technical issue there and I gave myself a lot of chances. I think I had 30 greens for the last 36 holes - so a lot of chances - but when you don't take them you won't win on a Sunday."

Brown, who has played throughout Asia and Australia this year after losing his European Tour card, said he hoped for more as he attempted to become the first Kiwi to win the Open since Mahal Pearce in 2003.

"[It's] just frustrating. It's probably been a career thing so I've just got to get better if I want to reach the goals that I want to reach. But I'll go away and work hard and try to get better."

Wind was one of the defining factors in Christchurch during the past week but the breeze died down as the day wore on yesterday, which appeared to work against Brown.

"I don't think it was good for me. I was hoping it was going to blow and it calmed right down and became pretty much target golf so it probably didn't [help], but that's the way it goes sometimes."

Brown is one of the leading money-winners on the Australasian PGA Tour in 2012 and will likely tee up at the Australian Open in Sydney in two weeks.