Franklin, MA — They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that was certainly the case for Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC) on Wednesday when he captured the 2017 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship at Franklin Country Club.
Brennan was awarded the Ted Bishop Cup after posting a three-round score of 3-under par 210. He finished one stroke ahead of two-time champion of this event, Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea GC).
It marked Brennan’s first career MGA title and his first major amateur competition in 49 months.
After competing in the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship, Brennan pursued a professional golf career. He has been waiting on the sidelines since February to have his amateur status reinstated and he only received word that was an amateur once again in late July.
Two months later, he is able to call himself anMGA Champion.
“It was great,” said Brennan. “I haven’t won anything since 2012 so it was a good introduction back into amateur golf.”
An Andover native who grew up playing at Indian Ridge Country Club, Brennan has enjoyed many great moments on Bay State courses but today was perhaps the sweetest and most satisfying after spending the majority of the 2017 golf season watching from afar.
“I think that my life is better off the golf course, so I appreciate stuff like this more,” said Brennan. “When I was in college or playing pro golf everything revolved around golf. The way I played dictated the day or weekend I would have, so this is a lot of fun.”
Nearly five years ago Brennan stole headlines as a rising young amateur star in the region. He came close to winning the 2012 Massachusetts Amateur Championship (he was stroke-play medalist and advanced to the quarterfinals that year) and his year-long dominance earned him the title of 2012 Richard D. Haskell MGA Player of the Year.
Following his graduation from Johnson & Wales University (FL) in 2013, Brennan pursued his professional golf dreams in Florida. After battling though local qualifiers and grinding away on mini tours, Brennan made the decision to return home and create a new life path.
Now at the age of 29, Brennan resides in Tyngsboro with his longtime girlfriend, plays golf out of his hometown course of Indian Ridge Country Club and works for Brownson Insurance as an insurance sales professional.
“Maybe lower expectations helped and less pressure put on myself,” said Brennan about capturing his first major MGA title less than three months shy of turning 30. “The last time around in amateur golf I came into these events really disappointed if I didn’t win, which I don’t think was fair because there are so many good players in the field. This week I got paired with Matt all three days so I just had a blast. Whatever happened happened, and I was fine with the result.”
His calm demeanor showed through from the very start. Playing in the same group as the two-time and defending champion Parziale, Brennan delivered a clean scorecard on day one that featured four birdies and 14 pars that placed him atop the leaderboard. He made just one bogey on Tuesday and found himself three shots ahead with 18 holes remaining.
“All week I really struggled to hit the ball close,” said Brennan, who finished with 43 pars over the three-day period. “If I hit it close I struggeld to get it in. I think that I only made three bogies all week, so I just kept trying to make par and stay patient.”
For a third straight day, Brennan was paired with Parziale. He went into Wednesday’s round thinking that he would need to make many birdies to secure the title. Something unexpected happened on the very first hole, however, as Parziale began his round with quadruple bogey “8”.
“I am sure he probably hasn’t made a quad in a tournament since he was 12 years old, but still I kind to blocked that out and tried to do my own thing,” said Brennan.
Brennan finished with a third-round score of 2-over par 73 and enjoyed a six-stroke lead at one point, but Parziale – who earlier this year won the Massachusetts Amateur Championship – battled back. He made six birdies through his final 17 holes and drew within one heading into the 18th hole.
“I wasn’t shocked,” said Brennan. “He is the best player in the state. He makes a ton of birdies. I tried to match him on a couple of holes at that point I just wanted the holes to run out.”
On that final hole, Brennan watched Parziale hit his second shot into the left greenside bunker. Brennan, who opted to lay up from 245 yards, sent his wedge approach long leaving him with a tricky downhill birdie attempt. Parziale, meanwhile, sent his bunker shot to three feet.
“My dad and I talked about the shot in,” said Brennan. “I had 245 to the middle and we decided ok you are either winning or losing the tournament here. Do you go for the green or do you play to your strength which is your wedge game? I hit a poor wedge shot and had a straight downhill putt. I actually thought that I had made it, but I was happy to get it down in two and I figured we were going to a playoff. It was a nice escape.”
Brennan did mastermind an incredible escape in front of a sizeable gallery by nearly holing his birdie putt from the back collar. Parziale then lipped out his birdie attempt to finish second.
“I expected him to make it,” said Brennan. “I played with him all three days and he putted outstanding. I don’t think right away it hit me. I didn’t want to win like that, but he made his fair share of putts and he was bound to lip out one.”