DEER GROVE — Thomas Brennan entered the 97th Annual Lincoln Highway Tournament as the defending champion after besting Ryan Harrison in a playoff last year. While Brennan fell a few strokes short of repeating this year, the Rochelle golfer still shot his way near the top of the tournament leaderboard.
Shady Oaks player Cole Ruckman scored 211 over 54 holes to win the championship this year. Brennan fired 215 to tie for second place, and although he was disappointed in his performance, he said he was still proud to record his second runner-up finish over the last four years. Brennan also won two titles over that span.
“The course was in good shape, but the greens were slow, which made putting fairly difficult,” Brennan said. “I had not played the course since I was in high school about 10 years ago, but I remembered playing well there so I had some confidence going into the tournament.”
Brennan fell behind early in the event, carding 78 after his first 18 holes to sit 10 strokes behind the leaders. He caught fire during his second 18-hole run, however, dropping seven strokes over the first 11 holes and shooting a 6-under-par 66. Brennan cut the lead down to as few as two strokes, but his tough first round proved too difficult to overcome. Brennan represented Fairways Golf Course, which took fifth place out of 12 teams with a plus-54 score.
“We did alright as a team,” Brennan said. “We are always looking to win, but most of us started off slow. We really picked things up over the last nine holes on the first day, and we finished strong on the second day. This is my favorite event to play each summer, not just because of the atmosphere, but because I get to play with great friends.”
Expectations will be high for the Fairways team next year, as the 98th Annual Lincoln Highway Tournament is scheduled to come to Rochelle at Fairways Golf Course. As for Brennan, he said he has a few tournaments coming up this summer including a United States Mid-Amateur Qualifier next month.
“We definitely expect to win as a team, and I have high expectations for myself as well,” Brennan said.”