Cricket's John Brennan gets his first Major title; takes 29th Middle-Amateur Championship
MALVERN, Pa.–John Brennan is a high school social studies teacher by trade. Thursday, the member of Philadelphia Cricket Club, penned the 29th chapter in Golf Association of Philadelphia Middle-Amateur Championship history.
Brennan entered the second and final round of the year’s first Major ahead by two shots. He methodically coped with a treacherous golf course and difficult scoring conditions at Chester Valley Golf Club (par 70, 6,547 yards) – the scoring average today was a robust 79.648 – to maintain that distance throughout over rival Ben Smith of Little Mill Country Club. Smith started the day in second place.
Brennan posted a second-round 4-over 74 while Smith, one of his two playing partners, carded a 76. The McDermott brothers, Michael of Merion Golf Club and Brian of Llanerch Country Club, finished tied for third at 7 over. Michael McDermott carded the day’s low score, a 2-over 72. Brian posted a 73.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s really tough to put into words,” said Brennan on winning his first Golf Association of Philadelphia Major Championship. “To put my name on a GAP trophy really means a lot. Words can’t describe it. The quality of play [in the Golf Association of Philadelphia] is so good. I was fortunate to get on a little streak yesterday and I was able to follow it up today. I made some nice chips and putts coming down the stretch.”
Brennan, 33, of Audubon, Pa., is the first Philadelphia Cricket Club member to win the Mid.-Am. since Rob Savarese, Jr. in 2003.
Scoring fell victim to steady winds and hard greens throughout the day before Brennan secured the victory with a clutch flat stick. It helped that Brennan caddied at Chester Valley from 1998-2001 while at Lebanon Valley College.
“I felt comfortable out there,” said Brennan.
Nursing that same two-stroke advantage he held at the start on No. 12 (par 4, 422 yards), albeit with some prior round twists and turns, Brennan drained a surprising 25-foot par save after hitting his drive into the right trees and being forced to chip out 75 yards short of the green on his second shot. Smith’s tee ball, on the other hand, was no better. It found the left hazard, and after a sideways chip out, he watched his third shot, a 6-iron from 165 yards out, stop short and left of the green. Smith needed three more strokes to finish.
When it was over, Brennan stayed at even for the tournament. Smith jumped to 4 over.
“I didn’t make a putt all day,” said Brennan. “I hit it two cups out to the left. I figured if I made it, Ben might press to make his.”
Added Smith, 25, of Voorhees, N.J. “That hurt. You always expect your opponent to make the putt. When his went in, though, I said in my mind that’s it.”
Smith wasn’t done, however. He gained a stroke back on each of the next two holes.
He made par on No. 13 (par 4, 449 yards) and a two-putt birdie on No. 14 (par 5, 466 yards) in comparison to a Brennan bogey and par.
Both players missed the green on the 15th (par 3, 153 yards), Brennan to the right and Smith long. Brennan’s ensuing chip skidded to a stop some 15 feet left. Smith lofted a lob wedge to eight feet and it appeared he may be a stroke closer, one back, with three holes to play when the two completed the hole. Brennan, however, wanted none of that and once again found the jar for a clutch par save. Smith made his, too, although he left the green somewhat shocked.
“When I crossed the road to get to 15, I said this is it right here,” said Brennan. “You have to hit some good shots down the stretch. The putt was huge because I had a feeling Ben was going to make that putt for par. That kept me going down the stretch.”
“I hit an 8-iron very solid. It was all over the stick. I was thinking I was going to be like Tommy Hyland and make a hole-in-one there today,” said Smith. “He made his and I made mine. That kept me in it.”
Brennan ended Smith’s hopes and dreams on the next hole (No. 16, par 4, 439 yards). He rocketed a drive down the left side and hit a gap wedge from 118 yards to six inches for birdie. Smith found trouble off both the tee and around the green. He would finish with a double bogey six.
“I just wanted to get it in going to the house after that,” said Brennan.
Brennan’s been a regular Mid.-Am. contender, finishing in the Top 9 in four of the prior six events.
For Smith, this was his highest Golf Association of Philadelphia placing. He did finish second in last year’s New Jersey State Amateur at Trump National Golf Club – Bedminster.
Brennan’s victory also earned him an exemption into July’s Open Championship at famed Pine Valley Golf Club.
“To punch my ticket to get in Pine Valley is unbelievable,” said Brennan.
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 145 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
NOTES– The aforementioned Tom Hyland of Little Mill CC recorded his 11th hole-in-one with a 7-iron on No. 15 (par 3, 153 yards) … the cut-line for the Mid.-Am. fell at 80 yesterday. A total of 71 players advanced to today’s final round.
Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Smith, Little Mill Country Club
McDermott, Merion Golf Club
McDermott, Llanerch Country Club
Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club
Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Williams, Makefield Highlands Golf Club
Freeh, Back Creek Golf Club
Apostolico, Back Creek Golf Club
Domenick, Phoenixville Country Club
McNeil, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Pruchnik, Back Creek Golf Club
Feeney, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Barron, III, Stone Harbor Golf Club
Shields, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Vonderheid, Huntsville Golf Club
Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club
Quinn, Edgmont Country Club
McLaughlin, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Viechnicki, Saucon Valley Country Club
Jamarowicz, Hartefeld National
Gillespie, Wedgwood Country Club
James, Golden Oaks Golf Club
Anderson, Makefield Highlands Golf Club
Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club
Umani, Honeybrook Golf Club
Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club
Bechtold, Loch Nairn Golf Club
Jeremiah, Bidermann Golf Club
Peterson, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Lubin, Five Ponds Golf Club
Isler, Chester Valley Golf Club
Wallace, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Donnelly, Merion Golf Club
Lange, Overbrook Golf Club
Moffat, Commonwealth National Golf Club
McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club
Kupcha, Fieldstone Golf Club
Cunningham, Overbrook Golf Club
Oberparleiter, Little Mill Country Club
Finger, Woodcrest Country Club
Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club
Coassolo, Brookside C.C. of Allentown
Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club
Walker, Loch Nairn Golf Club
Naylor, Applebrook Golf Club
Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Cahill, Merion Golf Club
Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Giovi, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club
Corrado, Jr., Jericho National Golf Club
Gordon, Five Ponds Golf Club
Mastone, Trump National Golf Club - Philadelphia
Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club
Ott, Silver Creek Country Club
Thon, The Springhaven Club
Fardon, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Hunger, Wedgwood Country Club
Lafoca, Huntsville Golf Club
Roeder, Links Golf Club
Beran, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve
Rose, Talamore Country Club
Maurer, Bent Creek Country Club
Griffaton, Brookside Country Club
Brennan, Five Ponds Golf Club
Walker, Laurel Creek Country Club
Loftus, Overbrook Golf Club
Chua, Fieldstone Golf Club
Hagger, Fieldstone Golf Club
Hynoski, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Walsh, Overbrook Golf Club
Achenbach, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve
Moran, Edgmont Country Club
Jordan, Tavistock Country Club
Huntzinger, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Grady, West Chester Golf & Country Club
Slonis, Tavistock Country Club
Ryan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
West, Whitford Country Club
Pyontek, Yardley Country Club
Matt, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Skyllas, Moselem Springs Golf Club
Simone, Philmont Country Club
Pinciotti, Jr., Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Orr, Brookside Country Club
Bickford, Little Mill Country Club
Spano, Llanerch Country Club
Albertus, Penn Oaks Golf Club
Santerian, Wedgwood Country Club
Good, Merion Golf Club
Coyle, Llanerch Country Club
McCauley, Applebrook Golf Club
Seiden, Llanerch Country Club
Chylinski, Chester Valley Golf Club
Fisher, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Herling, III, Cedarbrook Country Club
Lucci, Brookside Country Club
Barkley, Moselem Springs Golf Club
Anderson, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Dietz, Laurel Creek Country Club
Phillips, Spring Ford Country Club
Piersanti, Saucon Valley Country Club
Fitti, Llanerch Country Club
McBride, Five Ponds Golf Club
Kosko, Sea Oaks Golf Club
Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club
Carnevale, North Hills Country Club
Angelillo, Moselem Springs Golf Club
Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club
Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Budenz, Makefield Highlands Golf Club
Jamieson, Merion Golf Club
Cleary, Wilmington Country Club
Fagan, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club
Landreth, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club
Braunsberg, Blue Bell Country Club
Casella, Northampton Country Club
Shevlin, North Hills Country Club
Whartenby, Northampton Valley Country Club