Brown breaks school record, first to make two straight appearances

Connor Brown will attempt to carry over the momentum of his record-low 67 at Monday and Tuesday’s state golf tournament at University Ridge in Madison. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

 

By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent   

The bigger the stakes, the better Union Grove junior golfer Connor Brown performs.

Brown became the first Union Grove boys golfer to earn two straight state championship berths after scorching the fairways and greens at the WIAA Division 1 sectional at Broadlands Golf Club.

Brown posted a school-record 67, two strokes better than Eric Chambers’ previous record 69 from last season. Chambers got to witness his former teammate shatter his school record with a dazzling 5-under-par effort.

“I’ve never played better in competition or practice,” Brown said. “It means a lot to go back-to-back at state. Last year Eric played with me at state, and it was great to have him at sectionals helping me stay calm.”

Brown now advances to the WIAA state tournament Monday and Tuesday at historic and all-too-familiar University Ridge Golf Course in Madison. Brown tied for 34th at state last season.

“Connor was outstanding with just one bogey on the day to go along with an eagle and four birdies,” Union Grove golf coach Eric Swanson said. “What really set this round apart from his other rounds this year was his short game. He ended the round with 24 putts, which is incredible.”

Joining Brown at sectionals was Nate Koch, who quietly tallied a solid 86 on the day.

“Nate had one hole that hurt him with a quadruple bogey on the fifth hole, but other than that, he played pretty steady,” Swanson said. “This was his first year as a full-time varsity member and this was a great experience that will hopefully pay off big next year.”

Koch will also benefit from watching Brown’s masterful handling of the mental aspect of postseason competition.

“My mental game is better in the postseason,” Brown said. “I’m motivated to make shots and get to state and that helps elevate my play.”

With the experience of playing at state, Brown expects his mental game to be much improved this year.

“It was so nerve-racking stepping up to the tee box on the first hole on the first day of competition up there last year,” Brown said. “I finished 10th the first day and then fell back to finish 34th overall because I had a bad hole the second day and it got to me. When you play that course, you can’t let bad shots get to you, and this year I’ll be mentally stronger.”

Brown is now tasked with channeling his unforgettable sectional performance to the biggest stage in Wisconsin high school golf.

“I went into sectionals feeling really confident,” Brown said. “Now I’m just trying to maintain that same level of confidence for state.”

Maintaining confidence against the narrow fairways of University Ridge certainly won’t be easy for Brown, who prefers a link style course similar to Broadlands.

“I prefer a links course because it’s wide open compared to a tree course,” he said. “But last year, I qualified for state on a course that wasn’t links style, so I can play both courses.”

No matter the course, Brown manages to elevate his game when it matters most. Now it’s up to Brown to elevate his game even further at the state championship.

 

 

 

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