Loudoun County, VA (October 9, 2016) – Please join us in congratulating Tuscarora’s Michael Brennan as the 2016 Viva Loudoun September Athlete of the Month!
Most freshmen are simply trying to find their way as they adjust to the new reality that is high school. Especially when it comes to a fall sport like golf, which opens its season before school even begins, success among rookies is a rare beast.
Michael Brennan is not like most freshmen.
The 14-year-old is not only leading the way for the Tuscarora Huskies, but he has proven to be one of the best players in the entire region.
He has failed to earn medalist honors just twice all season, as he has posted the low score in nine out of 11 matches. Most notably, he was low medalist at the Conference 14 Championship at 1757 Golf Club on Sept. 21 as he fired a 71 (+1), as well as a the Region 5A North Championship at Brambleton Golf Club on Sept. 28, again shooting a 71 (-1).
“I practice as much as possible, I’m always focused and determined,” Brennan said, “I have a goal on what I want to accomplish that day, whether it’s work on a swing change or my putting, and with that I’ve been able to play number one and win a lot of matches.”
Known as Mikey by his peers, his 71 in the region championship came in difficult conditions on a rainy day, proving this freshman is well beyond his years. The young gun birdied holes 9, 10, 11 and 16 en route to his 1-under round.
“On 16 it really started raining hard, I brought out the rain gloves, the rain jacket, just trying to hit the fairway and hit the green and make pars, but I actually birdied that hole,” Brennan said.
Riding Brennan’s wave of success, the Huskies as a team were able advance from the Conference 14 tournament in a playoff, as they finished tied for second with Stone Bridge just one shot behind Briar Woods. After outlasting the Bulldogs for the second qualifying spot, they went on to win the Region 5A North tournament with a team score of 310, finishing just one stroke ahead of Halifax and three ahead of Atlee.
“I really like our team, it’s a lot of fun, practices are fun every day after school,” Brennan said. “Our team is really starting to come around and starting to believe and be confident.”
Next for Brennan and his pack of Huskies is the state championship, which will be contested at Magnolia Green Golf Club, located just outside Richmond, on Oct. 10 and 11.
“I just want to go out there and have fun, it’s my first time,” he said, “it’s going to be a really cool experience, the whole team will be there, and I hope the rest of the kids on the team will play well too.”
Brennan doesn’t expect to just show up, however, as his hopes are extraordinarily high.
“I want to win states, that’s been my goal for this whole high school year, that’s what I’ve been going towards in practice,” Brennan said.
At the helm for the Tuscarora golf team is Coach Jeff Kaplan, who works at the Golf Club at Lansdowne where the team holds practice daily.
“As a young freshman coming in, he’s not intimidated at all by the other golfers in the region,” Kaplan said, “he’s very confident and competitive, and he’s doing a great job with some of my back-end golfers to help them get their games better, and mentoring them, he’s a very well-rounded kid.”
Brennan’s meteoric rise is due in large part to his father, also Michael, who serves as the assistant coach for the Huskies.
“He’s played a lot of competitive amateur golf, he knows what he’s talking about,” said Brennan about his father, “and he’s helped our team a lot with the basics like tempo and balance, and helped a lot with chipping and putting.”
Another key contributor toward Brennan’s success is his swing coach Adam Harrell, founder of the Elite Performance Golf Academy at Westpark Golf Club in Leesburg.
“When he first came to me at 11, he was not really that into golf, he was just starting to think about it,” Harrell said, “but he set some goals and he went after them and tried to achieve them and he made some great progress. Once he committed to playing golf more full time and became very focused, he kind of exploded.”
Until he was 11, the father-son duo worked together exclusively, developing Mikey into a sound young golfer with lots of potential. They continue to work together, but Harrell has been able to help polish those raw skills into a more efficient machine, all culminating in a dominant freshman year performance.
“What he’s doing is really impressive, but he is still just scratching the surface because of how young he is, he doesn’t have a ton of experience yet in high-level competitions,” Harrell said. “But I’m not surprised, he has a very high golf IQ, he is driven, motivated, talented and he is easy to work with.”
Brennan took advantage of a recent putting lesson, which he credits as the biggest reason why he was able to win the region. Not only did he see a big improvement in his putting, but he also used a set of Harrell’s clubs to win both the conference and the region, as they determined he had outgrown his own set.
Despite being relatively late to high-level competition, Brennan had a busy summer earlier this year prior to the start of his first high school campaign. He competed in the Virginia State Amateur, came in 14th at the U.S. Kids Team World Championship at Pinehurst No. 9, played in several Hurricane Junior Golf Tour events, and won the Junior Valentine at Hermitage Country Club in Richmond.
Even if Brennan does go on to capture the state championship as a freshman, he still believes he has plenty more to do over his next three years at Tuscarora.
“If I win states, next year my goal would be the same,” he said, “I would go out and work as hard as I can and try to beat my score from this year.”
Viva Loudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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