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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Senior golfer sets record at golf invitational

Michael O’Brien was the 2018-2019 A-10 all conference champion. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

When senior golfer Michael O’Brien set out for his final round at Kilmarlic Golf Club on Oct. 22, it didn’t feel any different than the other dozen times he had played there. However, 18 holes later, O’Brien would make history.

“There was nothing that morning that pointed to signs of what was going to happen,” O’Brien said. “When I warmed up I actually didn’t feel that great but I didn’t feel bad either. I was just ready to go out and compete.”

O’Brien would set a new course record, scoring a 61 in the final round of the ODU/OBX Intercollegiate. It would cap off a tournament that saw St. Joe’s finish 5th overall, which is special to O’Brien considering the team hadn’t finished higher than 12th over the course of his career.

“I don’t think anybody sets out on the day thinking that is going to happen,” Head Coach Bob Lynch said. “He was pretty confident he would be in the running for medalist even though he was like five shots back. But 61, nobody thinks that.”

To O’Brien, one thing that separates a great golfer and somebody who golfs recreationally is their headspace during the round. During his round, O’Brien used some negativity from a past tournament to keep himself focused.

“The best thing going for me that day was the weekend before at Georgetown I struggled a lot,” O’Brien said. “So I stayed into it more and focused on what I was doing rather than the score. Which is kind of the best spot I can be in.”

Prior to his record setting round, O’Brien didn’t have fond memories of playing at Kilmarlic.

“I have never been a fan of that course,” O’Brien said. “But now, obviously, I’m its biggest fan. I think one time sophomore year I might have shot 69. Those bad breaks kind of went away on Tuesday. I made a couple putts and it all came together.”

Lynch said it was easy to tell early on that O’Brien was locked in.

“He birdied his first two holes of the day,” Lynch said. “He has a great disposition, he knows he is good. That is what is really scary, we have played four tournaments this fall and he has won two of them.”

For O’Brien, the first seven holes of Kilmarlic are the most challenging. The final 11 are where he said he is usually able to start getting birdies. The seventh in particular had caused him problems in past years but on Tuesday he was able to overcome.

“I was two under going into the seventh hole,” O’Brien said. “The seventh hole has eaten me alive every year. On Tuesday I just wanted to get through it and get par, bogey works, just get out of there. Then I made a putt from just off the green and I felt alright.”

Even though he knew he was playing well, it never crossed O’Brien’s mind that he might be approaching the course record. He said he was in the moment and the day, “was an easy kind of boring, just felt like another day of golf.”

“At the Division I level you need to have the mentally that before each round you can go out and set the record,” senior teammate Alec Kerr said. “Granted, not a lot of guys think that way. Being able to go out and shoot that score is wild.”

Most important to O’Brien, even more than medaling, he was able to lead his team up the leaderboard. He said this year’s team relies heavily on each other.

“This year we have the best team chemistry I have had over the course of my four years,” O’Brien said. “We all have trust in each other to perform. To have all of them there on 18 to congratulate me after signing my score card, there is no better feeling.”

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