Saint Vincent's Shaughnessy ready to take on West Penn Open field at Oakmont
“Doc, I think I’ve got it.”
That message, and others like it from Brendan Shaughnessy, often show up on Saint Vincent golf coach Tom Cline’s phone during the season. No further explanation is required. Cline knows exactly what it means: Shaughnessy just spent hours working on some facet of his game that let him down the previous day.
“This is a kid who, if he hits a bad bunker shot, will go out the next day and spend eight hours in a bunker,” Cline said.
That kind of determination is what could make the rising junior a contender for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference title this season. It also earned him a spot in the West Penn Open, which begins Monday at Oakmont Country Club.
Shaughnessy played in the West Penn Open once before, in 2015, the summer leading up to his senior year at Bishop Canevin.
“The first time I played in it, I had no business being there,” he said. “I came in dead last. I was super nervous. This time around, I feel more comfortable and feel like I belong in these events.”
Shaughnessy’s self-assured attitude has nothing to do with hubris. Rather, Cline said, it is a sign he has matured mentally as a golfer.
“Brendan has learned golf is not about how far you hit it. It’s about getting the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes,” said Cline, the 2013 club champion at Latrobe Country Club. “He has no ego on the golf course.”
Shaughnessy hopes the combination of work and maturity gives his game another boost when the Bearcats reconvene in the fall. Last season, he dropped his scoring average nearly three strokes from fall season to spring season (82.6 to 79.9).
Part of that improvement, Cline said, can be attributed to Shaughnessy’s more efficient play from 100 yards in. And even when that or some other part of his game isn’t sharp, the same drive that keeps him practicing for hours pushes him through his round.
“He won’t surrender to the golf course,” Cline said. “He’s grinder. He just finds a way to put up a good score.”
Cline said he believes Shaughnessy is on a trajectory that could vault him to the top of the PAC. For his part, however, Shaughnessy is more interested in team success.
“I would rather win a team title than get an individual title,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 goal. Our golf team is like a family. All the guys on my team are my best friends at school. We want to win one for each other.”
But first, there’s the 114th West Penn Open. Shaughnessy earned a spot in the tournament by shooting 71 and placing 10th at a qualifier at Edgewood Country Club.
Shaughnessy said he has been working a lot on putting to prepare for Oakmont’s notoriously difficult greens. And though the legendary course will present a stiff challenge, he is looking forward to seeing how his game measures up.
He also looks forward to completing the Western Pennsylvania Amateur, which was halted by heavy rains July 2 and will conclude Aug. 20. He shot 76 in the first round and will start the final round tied for 60th in the 84-man field.
Regardless of those outcomes, Shaughnessy remains single-minded in his pursuit.
“All these events I’m playing are making me more confident to get a PAC title and bring it back to Saint Vincent.”
Charles Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Charles at email@example.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.