Gielow’s golf marathon ends with a victory
When Wake Forest’s Brendan Gielow returned to Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday night, he ended a whirlwind journey.
In a five-day period, Gielow played six competitive rounds in two states and walked away with one trophy. Oh, and he traveled through four states to make it happen.
Gielow’s golf expedition started at the Jones Cup, which ran from Feb. 5-7. He shot rounds of 81-80-75 at Ocean Forest in St. Simons Island, Ga., to tie for 48th. Not the scores the U.S. Walker Cup player was hoping for, but they set him up for better things at the Jacksonville Invitational, which was held Monday and Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass’ Players Stadium Course.
Gielow spent some time after the Jones Cup on Ocean Forest’s driving range, working with his father, Eric Gielow, on his backswing and release. Then father and son made the 1-hour drive to Jacksonville. Brendan dropped his father off at the airport, then met his Wake Forest teammates at their hotel. Gielow arrived at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
He teed off at TPC Sawgrass the next morning and went on to win, shooting 2-over 218 (76-69-73). The Jacksonville Invitational was 36 holes Monday and another 18 Tuesday.
“I definitely felt like I was starting to get tired on the first nine of the second 18,” Gielow said. “I told our assistant coach (Dan Walters), ‘Man, I’m starting to get really tired,’ so I tried to get myself going, started walking a little bit faster to get into it a little more, because I could feel myself getting tired and not being as sharp.
“It actually really helped me because I started playing really well after that.”
Gielow made birdie on Nos. 16 and 17 in the final round, which allowed him to win by one despite a bogey on No. 18.
Gielow missed the tournament’s practice round because he was still at the Jones Cup, but he had played TPC Sawgrass once before with his father.
“I kind of knew where I had to go, and some of the lines off the tee shots,” Gielow said. “That definitely helped out a lot. It would’ve been tough going in having never played it before.”
While most of the Wake Forest team hopped into a van for the 7 1/2-hour return trip to Winston-Salem, Gielow had to navigate his Nissan XTerra (Gielow’s golf-themed license plate: GO4ITN2). Teammates Travis Wadkins and Charlie Harrison kept him company.
“I was definitely tired,” Gielow said. “The first half (of the trip), I was excited because I had just won, but then the last couple hours were tough. My teammates did a good job of talking to me. It was nice to fall into bed when I got back.”
Despite the fatigue, Gielow felt the journey helped him net his second career college title. Like many players, Gielow was trying to get back into tournament shape after the offseason.
“I was so sloppy at the Jones Cup,” Gielow said. “And then at Sawgrass, I didn’t hit it my best, but I saved a lot more shots. My game was so much sharper in terms of my approach to certain shots and the way I was working around the course.”