Brennan wins Philadelphia amateur event

Posted: May 26, 2012

Back when he was a student at Lebanon Valley College, John Brennan caddied during the summers at Chester Valley Golf Club. So when he returned to the Malvern layout this week for the Golf Association of Philadelphia's Middle-Amateur Championship, he was about as much at ease as he could be entering an important tournament.

The comfort level showed. Brennan, a 33-year-old social studies teacher at Spring Ford High School, followed up an opening 3-under-par 67 with a 74 Thursday and captured the championship of the 29th annual event by 4 strokes.

Brennan, a member at Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, played some outstanding golf over the rugged 6,588-yard, par-70 course. But the familiarity helped, too.

"It was so odd because when I came out here for the practicing round, I'm thinking, 'I remember this,' " Brennan said. "Obviously I'm a few years out of college, but I felt comfortable on the tees and the greens. I was never worried about the conditions of the golf course or the quirkiness as some people say.

"I think it's a great layout. It's one of the toughest par-70 courses around here, and to get it around in two days in 1-over, I'm ecstatic."

Brennan, who lives in Audubon, began the day with a 2-stroke lead over Ben Smith of Little Mill and remained two up with three holes to play before putting the championship away at the par-4 16th. He hit a gap wedge from 118 yards out to within a foot and made birdie, while Smith found trouble with a wayward tee shot and carded a double bogey.

"It took a great hop out of the rough," Brennan said of the approach shot. "Then I felt, 'Just get it in the house.' "

Smith, of Voorhees, shot a 76 and took second at 145. In what turned out to be a familiar pairing in third place, Merion's Michael McDermott, a three-time champion of this event, posted the lowest round of the day, a 72, and found himself tied with his younger brother, Brian, at 147.

Chip Lutz of LedgeRock and Michael Brown of Philadelphia Publinks, who have combined for three titles in this event, were another stroke back at 148.

Contact Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or or follow him on Twitter @joejulesinq

 The results

John Brennan, Phila. Cricket . . . 67-74-141

Ben Smith, Little Mill . . . 69-76-145

Michael McDermott, Merion . . . 75-72-147

Brian McDermott, Llanerch . . . 74-73-147

Chip Lutz, LedgeRock . . . 72-76-148

Michael Brown, Phila. Publinks . . . 71-77-148

Eric Williams, Makefield Highlands . . . 75-74-149

Anthony Apostolico, Back Creek . . . 75-74-149

Tim Freeh, Back Creek . . . 73-76-149

Michael Domenick, Phoenixville . . . 78-73-151

Scott McNeil, Phila. Publinks . . . 75-76-151

Peter Barron III, Stone Harbor . . . 79-73-152

David Shields, Phila. Publinks . . . 76-76-152

Todd Vonderheid, Huntsville . . . 75-77-152

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