Michael Foley has returned and the Brainerd Warriors boys golf team couldn’t be happier.
After missing the season’s first four meets, Foley has seized the team’s No. 1 player slot. He shot team-low 76s in his first two rounds of the season, April 25 at the Pines at Grand View Lodge and a day later at the Preserve, also at GVL. He scorched a 72 in Monday’s conference meet at Territory Golf Course in St. Cloud, tying teammate Tommy Olson for Brainerd’s top score.
“I think his impact was felt right away, it’s huge,” Warriors coach Brian Wallace said. “I think the kids feel like, as a team, now they’re a little more complete. I think they can feel the fact that when they go into a meet now they have a chance to win it.
“Michael brings a positive attitude to the team. He brings a level of seriousness about the game, a competitiveness. With him being around, it steps everyone else’s sense or awareness of the game up a little bit. Aside from his great scores, I think the way he goes about his game, and his seriousness, will affect the other players’ games, too.”
At the Pines, Foley said he was nervous from the start.
“It’s hard to come back right away, especially after sitting and waiting to play,” he said. “I started off struggling (at the Pines). I had some pretty bad 3-putts. I just had to dig deep and I found a way to grind it out. I had a birdie on No. 9 that gave me a lot of momentum.
“On the back nine, I tried to take it lower. I just maintained, kind of coasted in. It was a good way to start my season.”
A day later at the Preserve, Foley found the weather colder and windier but shot the same score.
“The Preserve has always been a tougher course for me,” he said. “It doesn’t set up as well as I would like it to be as a left-handed player hitting a draw.
“I started off rough. I came back and pulled it together on the back nine. I made a few birdies late that helped me.”
At the Territory, Foley started off with a few bogeys.
“They weren’t the worst bogeys in the world, but not ones you want to have,” he said. “I was 3-over after seven holes. On hole 8, we had to wait about 20 minutes. I kind of gave myself a little pep talk about what was happening, that I was going to have fun, relax and be OK. I ended up birdieing that hole, and I birdied No. 10 after that.
“I started to put it together on the back nine. I had it to 1-under, then I hit a bad tee shot and made bogey, then I made two pars in.”
Foley played his junior year at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. He said South Carolina provided a good golf experience, but his family missed Brainerd.
“I missed playing with my good friends, Tommy Olson and Aaron Rich,” he said. “And, the community support here is phenomenal, unparalleled by anybody. I missed that a lot.”
Other notable efforts:
• Jackson Walters, boys track and field, tied a 42-year-old school record on his way to winning the 110 hurdles in 14.74 at the Hamline Elite meet.
•Nikki Anderson, softball, struck out 17 and allowed one earned run and three hits in a doubleheader against Apollo and went 6 for 7 at the plate.
• Jenny Muesing, girls golf, tied for medalist honors in a CLC meet at Sauk Rapids.