HOUSTON—It’s true there’s no place like home, but for Tommy Brennan, five hours west of where he hangs his hat isn’t too bad, either. Brennan, who lives in Covington, La., and grew up in New Orleans, won the 17th Trans-Mississippi Senior Championship on Thursday at Houston Country Club, a course and club that gave him nostalgic vibes from the moment he stepped on property Sunday morning.
A model of consistency, Brennan shot rounds of 71-71-70 to finish at 1-under-par 212. He won by four shots over Mike Booker from The Woodlands and Trans-Miss Director John McClure, who tied for second place at 3-over 216. Brennan commented early in the week that Houston Country Club reminded him of New Orleans Country Club, on which he grew up playing. The oak tree-lined fairways, tricky doglegs and pushed-up greens all felt familiar, as did the heat and humidity the players experienced throughout the week.
If those weren’t enough to strike sentimental chords with Brennan, he had to look no further than to Houston Country Club’s Head Professional Gordon Johnson for a friendly, welcoming face. Johnson was the head pro at New Orleans Country Club from 1988-92.
“I really like this place,” said Brennan, 55, who won the 2015 Louisiana Senior Amateur and was runner-up at the 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur. “I told my caddie as soon as we got here: This reminds me of home. We put in a lot of work on Sunday and Monday in practice rounds, and everything just felt comfortable. The staff did a great job getting this course in shape for us.”
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Brennan led the championship after 36 holes thanks to consecutive even-par rounds to start the tournament. In the final round, three birdies and only two bogeys allowed him to sign for a red number, a 1-under 70. Out of more than 50 players in the Senior Division, Lee Sandlin from Dallas posted the only other under-par round Thursday; Sandlin shot 1-under to score a top-25 finish. Both scores are even more impressive considering Houston Country Club played to a stroke average of 77.58 for the final round.
“Any time you win a national event like this one, it means something,” Brennan said. “This isn’t like a city championship. This is a big-time national tournament. I drove the ball pretty well all week and was proud of how I played.”
Booker, the reigning Texas Senior Amateur champion and winner of nine Texas Golf Association events, played alongside Brennan in the final round.
“He was very consistent,” Booker said of Brennan. “Fairways and greens all day. He played really well.”
John Dowdall from Fulshear, Texas, took fourth place at 6-over 219. Eddie Lyons from Shreveport, La., and Chuck Palmer from Dallas shared fifth place with 7-over 220.
Gary Kirwan from McKinney, Texas, won the Super Senior Division for players 65 years and older. The steady Kirwan shot rounds of 74-75-75 to win with 11-over 224, two better than five-time Trans-Miss Senior champion Chris Maletis from Portland, Ore.
“Other than two holes, I kept it in play all week,” said the 67-year-old Kirwan, who was the Society of Seniors’ 2015 Super Senior Player of the Year after eight top-5 finishes last year. “It’s an honor to win a Trans-Miss event because it’s a big deal. This is a good course, a historical course. And it’s a great course to win on, that’s for sure.”
Jody Vasquez from Aledo, Texas, claimed third place at 14-over 227. Corliss Nelson from Dallas shared fifth place with Bob Hullender from San Antonio. Nelson and Hullender finished at 16-over 229.
The Trans-Miss Senior Championship features three age divisions, one of which completed play Wednesday. In the Legends Division for amateurs aged 70 and older, players compete over 36 holes. Jim Martin from Dallas successfully defended his 2016 Legends Division title with a score of 6-over 148. Phil Patterson, the current Trans-Miss Golf Association President, finished in second place in the Legends Division at 10-over 152.
It was a special victory for Martin, who began his 30-year Trans-Miss playing career at Houston Country Club in 1982 at the Four-Ball Championship. Martin also won the 1987 Trans-Miss Four-Ball with partner Travis Thompson from Dallas.
Houston Country Club is one of the most storied institutions in Texas. Founded in 1908, the club originally was located in southeast Houston and featured a course designed by Tom McNamara. In 1956, the club relocated to Houston’s upscale Tanglewood area. The current course is an original Robert Trent Jones design, an old school gem that challenges golfers with narrow, tree-lined fairways and devious green complexes. The 7,009-yard, par-71 layout rests adjacent to Buffalo Bayou, which comes into play on a handful of holes.
A longtime Trans-Miss Golf Association Member Club, Houston Country Club previously hosted the 1982 Four-Ball Championship, won by John Jennings, Jr. and John Paul Cain. The 17th Trans-Miss Senior was the third championship contested in the Houston area in the association’s 115-year history. Houston Country Club also was the site of a 1964 match between Ben Hogan and Sam Snead that was televised to more than 3 million viewers on “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.”. Hogan beat Snead by three shots.
The Trans-Miss Golf Association extends its sincere gratitude to the Houston Country Club staff and members, as well as our volunteers, for their parts in making this a successful and memorable week.
About the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association
The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf organizations in the United States. Established in 1901, the Trans-Mississippi is composed of over 200 member clubs located throughout the country. The Association is governed by a board of independent directors and is headquartered in Dallas, TX.
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