Michael Brennan and Christopher Zhang (VSGA photo)
The final match is set at the Virginia Amateur, and there’s an unmistakable theme. It was voiced best, perhaps, by Peter Gasperini on Thursday.
“I mean, these kids can play,” Gasperini, who plays for Radford, told VSGA writer Chris Lang.
Gasperini’s run ended at the hands of Michael Brennan, 4 and 2, in the semifinals. Brennan, of Leesburg, Va., will now meet fellow teenager Christopher Zhang of Blacksburg in Friday’s final at Keswick Golf Club. The two juniors will go head-to-head for 36 holes to decide a champion.
Brennan, a 17-year-old rising senior at Tuscarora High School who has committed to Wake Forest, took down medalist Connor Messick in the quarterfinals, 5 and 4, before reaching Gasperini. Against Gasperini, Brennan had a somewhat slow start but jumped ahead by making five straight birdies, which gave him a 4-up lead through 10 holes.
“Consistency, I think, is the key out here, and just in match play in general,” Brennan told the VSGA. “You’ve just got to wear them down. Fairways and greens, wear them out that way. Make them think that you’re not going to mess up. When they start thinking that way, then they’re in trouble. Because they start to push and, it’s just all downhill from there. You just try to get in their head and let them know you’re not going to mess up.”
Like Brennan, Zhang jumped on his quarterfinal opponent early, building a 5-up lead through seven holes against Cameron Moore, a rising Virginia Tech sophomore. He closed that match out on No. 15. He found himself in a tougher situation against Jimmy Taylor in the afternoon.
Taylor led 1 up through 11 holes, but Zhang made a birdie on 12 and won the next three holes to push Taylor to the point of no return in the match. Zhang eventually won, 3 and 2.
“Essentially, it’s the same as stroke play, but every once in a while, you have to change your strategy up,” Zhang said. “Really, the mentality, it’s mostly the same, I think. But it’s fun and different.”
Taylor, who is set to start his college career at William and Mary later this summer, reached the championship match of the VSGA Junior Match Play Championship and the semifinals of the VSGA Amateur.
Brennan and Zhang told the VSGA that they know each other but haven’t competed against each other in a match-play setting. The quality of golf when they meet in the final match won’t disappoint.
Information from Chris Lang and the VSGA used in this report
ABOUT THE Virginia Amateur
36 holes of stroke play qualifying (18 holes per
the low 32 players advance to match play. Non-
players must pre-qualify. Open to VSGA members of
ages. Participants must hold an active GHIN number
issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good
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