Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” The wait was agonizing.
Two days, and still no answer. Bryan Brennan nearly gave up. He didn’t touch a golf club for four days. Then came a phone call.
“Welcome to Craig.”
A simple message, but one that carried significant meaning for the young golfer. On the other end of the line, Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee told Brennan the good news. After 48 excruciating hours, Brennan found out he officially qualified for the 2008 4A Colorado State Golf Championship at the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig.
Not only that, but Brennan’s teammate and friend Jamison Bair was also making the trip.
“I was really happy (when I got the news),” Brennan said. “I was just glad that I wasn’t done golfing for the year.”
Dejà vu nearly struck Brennan for the second-straight season before Buzbee’s call. Last year, Brennan missed the state tournament by one stroke. The same fate almost finished his high school career.
Following play at regionals in Aspen on Sept. 23, Skiers’ coach Mary Woulfe and Buzbee huddled to determine who made it to state. When Buzbee left the clubhouse minutes later he thought both Bair and Brennan ” who shot an 80 and 82 respectively ” had qualified, but he didn’t tell either because he didn’t want to ruin the surprise before Woulfe made the announcement.
There was only one problem. Somewhere along the line, Woulfe determined Brennan didn’t make it. Bair was safely in with his 80.
“When they announced Bryan as an alternate, it was like getting punched in the stomach,” Buzbee said. “We were happy for Jamison, but even Jamison wasn’t that happy. In the back of his mind, he wanted as many of us to be there as we could. All four (Eagle Valley golfers at regionals) felt bad for Bryan.”
Buzbee traded phone calls with numerous contacts the next two days, trying to see if Brennan was in or out. All he got were more question marks. That is until Eagle Valley athletic director Cliff Zehring handed Buzbee an e-mail with the state qualifiers. Brennan’s name was listed along with the 84 other golfers.
The first-year coach triple-checked to make sure it was correct, then he told Brennan the news.
“When Bryan didn’t make it, I felt sad for him,” Bair said. “It was like the best day in the world for me when he actually was able to play. It was awesome.”
As if Brennan’s story weren’t incredible enough, consider he almost didn’t play the 2008 season. That’s because he broke his arm at the start of the summer playing lacrosse. The senior regained his strength just in time, and went to work on his goal of reaching state.
Two friends, same mission
Bair is a seasoned veteran when it comes to the state golf tournament. This is the third-straight year he’s qualified, but experience won’t be his only advantage. Both Eagle Valley qualifiers own intimate knowledge of the Yampa Valley Golf Course.
For Oct. 6-7 Colorado State Golf Tournament, the par-70 course will play 6,505 yards.
There won’t be any surprises for Bair or Brennan. Bair estimated they have played the course at least 10 times.
Neither Brennan nor Bair is Tiger Woods with the driver, so the short length plays well with their strengths. Bair prefers to hit a hybrid off the tee, while Brennan is stronger with his irons.
“If I can get off the tee, I’m capable of shooting low scores,” Bair said. “It is just a matter of hitting the fairway.”
Maybe it’s not a coincidence that both excel with their irons. After Brennan recovered from his broken arm, the duo spent the remainder of the summer pushing each other. They went to summer tournaments, met at the range at Eagle Ranch Golf Course, and set the same goal ” make state.
All the extra practice paid off.
“Bryan and Jamison probably take it more seriously than anybody on the team,” Buzbee said. “Golf is a lot of maybes and what-ifs. Here is an example of kids where the hard work paid off. They take it seriously, it is more than just a game to them.”
Now, both are already looking toward the future. Bair and Brennan share aspirations of playing golf in college.
“Now that I’m going (to the state tournament), I have to do well,” Brennan said. “This is my last chance to get a college scholarship for golf. I know wherever I go, I’m going to have to go to open tryouts.”
Buzbee is encouraging his players to take time and enjoy their accomplishments. The hard part is over, both will tee it up at state.
“They are more relaxed now than they were going into regionals,” Buzbee said. “Regionals is a qualifier. There is more pressure there. Now they’re at the state tournament. I told them, whatever you do, don’t have a bad time.”
Whatever happens on Monday and Tuesday, Brennan and Bair will know they both played among the best golfers in the state.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at email@example.com or at 748-2935.
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