Tonight’s story features my dear friend Tommy Brennan. For those who don’t know Tommy, he is a New Orleans native who played collegiate golf at Alabama. Tommy is one of the best amateur players to come out of the state of Louisiana. He’s played in 27 USGA national championships and has won his share of LA Amateur tournaments. Outside of Freddie Haas, one could make the argument that he is the best amateur to play in the state of Louisiana. He has had a long and very successful career as a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch. And yes, if you were wondering, he is part of the iconic Brennan restaurant family.
The year is 1992, the very first week of my rookie season on the PGA TOUR. Tommy Brennan and I were invited to play in the Ping Pro Scratch at Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. In preparation for this event and my start on the PGA TOUR, Tommy and I had weekly matches against Pete Mathews (now Director of Golf at Wade Hampton Golf Club), Tommy Moore (PGA TOUR player), other pros and high ranked amateurs. We were peaking at the right time. In fact, the week before we left for Arizona, Brennan and I both dropped a 68 on Mathews, Moore and Rob Noel at English Turn CC. I actually said after collecting our winnings that day that they should start engraving the trophy with our names on it. We were young but we had moxie! We showed up in Arizona and there were a lot of big name TOUR players playing in the event. Some amateurs had previously played professionally or on high level college teams, and they were ready for this type of event. Very simple tournament format, team scratch best ball for three days. As the tournament would play out, we were in the top ten heading into the final round. The weather was high mountain cold. Our winter in NOLA had served us well, we were prepared. Tommy and I are a perfect pair. He never misses a fairway and he’s never out of the hole. That allows me to be ultra-aggressive and make as many birdies as possible. During the final round, we held our own on the front nine. I missed a short putt for birdie on 10 and got a little rattled. Gary McCord and his amateur partner had started 2 shots ahead of us and there were other groups between us and them. We needed something big to happen on the back nine. Big is an understatement as to what happened next. We are standing on the 14th tee and we are running out of time. 14 is a par five, and you would think it would play into my strength but that’s not the way the story goes. Tommy hits a drive right down the middle (as usual) and then hits his second shot ten yards short of the green. I hit a driver in the fairway then pulled a 3 iron that landed smack dab into a cactus tree. We ride up to see where my shot landed and I immediately know I’m in trouble. It was the first time all week that I was in my pocket. The best I could make was a 5 and that was most unlikely. I was really looking at a 6 or 7. Have no fear because Tommy steps up and rolls in a 50 footer for eagle. Bam! Just like that and I am in the cart going nuts! Yelling like only a rookie would. The adrenaline was overwhelming me but Tommy was the picture of calmness. 15th, the very next hole is a drivable par 4 and we are both licking our chops. Tommy hits driver right into the middle of the green about 40 feet away from the pin. He can drive it really straight. I’m juiced so I hit 3 wood about 35 feet away from pin. You could sense that something was going to happen. I was thinking it was going to be me but TB knocks in the 40 footer for eagle. PGA TOUR Pro Howard Twitty who was paired with us, looks at me like are y'all being serious? I think I yelled out the first ever #playeralert. We high fived so much it might have effected how we played the next hole because we made bogey on the par three 16th. Then the magic switched over to moi on the par 5 17th hole. Tommy is right down the middle of the fairway and lays up. The green was narrow with trouble on both sides. I hit a driver on the left side of the fairway and Tommy convinces me to go for it with a 1 iron, he says "I have got your back". So I gamble and hit a 1 iron that lands short of the green, takes a big bounce and rolls up to about 20 feet from the hole. It’s an easy two putt for birdie. On the 18th tee the rules official lets us know that we have a 1 shot lead. However, there are some really good pros behind us and they are playing the easy holes. Tommy hits it down the middle then on the green. I hit it in the left rough then hit 8 iron to twelve feet. Howard Twitty comes over and says knock this putt in kid and you’ll win some big money. And that’s exactly what I did. We finished eagle, eagle, bogey, birdie, birdie to win by 2. It was an Official Win on the PGA TOUR for us LOL. We won $30,000 and I remember one of the pros telling me son, you don’t know how much money that is. It might cover your caddy fees for the entire year, LOL. The best part of this whole story was the headline of an article in Golfworld Magazine the following week asking "Who’s the Pro Anyway?" with a picture of Tommy and I. With the quote “Gibson had the drive but partner Brennan provided the winning eagles.” #playeralert#officialpgatourwin