By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN — Brian Terlesky looks just like any normal 7-year-old — bright, happy and full of energy.
Then you put a golf club in his hand and the youngster becomes the second coming of Tiger Woods.
The son of Brian and Christine Terlesky of Boardman, Brian has been setting the world on fire with his golf game at a time most youngsters his age don’t even know what the game is all about.
In his backyard at 535 Gardenridge Court is an average swingset, but that’s for his 2-year-old brother. Brian’s playground is on the other side of the yard — a new putting green that his parents had installed last fall.
Brian was 3 years old when he first picked up a toy golf club and started swinging it. When his parents noticed his good form they decided to give the game a little more attention.
Brian Sr. put up a net in the basement of their home when the youngster was four and he has spent hours hitting balls.
“My husband has been the one who had really gotten involved with the whole golf picture,” said Christine. “He’s the one that has watched every video, read every magazine and wrote different techniques on putting and chipping for Brian. He’s the only coach that Brian has ever had.”
Brian Sr. was a football standout at Chaney High and Youngstown State University.
“He really got into golf after college,” added Christine, who was a basketball standout at Boardman High and YSU and is currently an assistant basketball coach for the Spartans under her father, Ron Moschella.
“He coached boys golf for a couple of years and then went back to football for a year, but next year he and I are going to coach the girls golf team at Boardman,” Christine said.
The athletic ability comes natural to young Brian. The same is true of his golfing ability.
He played in his first golf tournament at the age of 5, the Mill Creek Par-3 event, and won it. Since that time he has won enough trophies to cover the Terlesky’s mantle and other parts of the room.
“He played in the Mill Creek Par-3 junior league and averaged 30 for the year at age 5,” his mother said. “We knew then that we had something special going.”
Last year Brian started to play in state and national competition and won both the Ohio and Pennsylvania U.S. Kids state tournaments.
Last August he competed in the U.S. Kids World Tournament at Pinehurst, N.C., and finished second in his age group, shooting 2 under par and finishing two shots behind the winner.
Recently Brian competed in two Ohio U.S. Kids events, one in Columbus and the other in Cleveland, and won his age group in both events. He shot a 3 under par 33 in Columbus and a 5 under par 31 at Cleveland’s Fox Den Golf Course.
Those two events qualified him for the Kids World Tournament Aug. 2-3 in Pinehurst.
The amazing thing about Brian is that he is not playing on pitch-and-putt courses typical for kids his age. They are shorter than most regular courses, but still very challenging.
His parents have never had to push the youngster toward the sport. He’s loved it from the moment he started.
“He plays some basketball in the winter and tried playing baseball, but said that is messes up his golf swing,” said Christine.
It’s hard to believe that there are many junior golfers at Brian’s age, but his mother said they found quite a few recently in Illinois.
“Brian competed in the Pepsi Little People Tournament in Springfield, Ill., and there were over 80 players in his age group alone and there were a lot of good ones,” she said.
But not quite as good as Brian, as he shot 28-29 over the two rounds on a par-33 layout, finishing 9 under par and winning by five shots.
Brian said chipping is the best part of his game.
“I can hit my driver, depending on the course conditions, about 160 to 170 yards,” he said.
In a recent tournament Brian had a fairly short putt for an eagle that just missed. When asked what happened he said, “Dad misread it.”
The Terlesky’s are members at Fonderlac Country Club, where Brian shot 39 on the back nine from the ladies tees. They have also received great support from Reserve Run Golf Course, Whispering Pines, Mill Creek and the Creekside Golf Dome, along with the First Tee of Mahoning Valley.
Then there is also some financial help for Brian’s traveling expenses, which has come from Tony LaRiccia, who has taken a liking to the youngster and has become a sponsor.
Brian also has the full support of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Terlesky and Mr. and Mrs. Ron Moschella.
This fall Brian will enter the second grade at Stadium Drive Elementary School in Boardman.
Oh, yes, his favorite golfer? You guessed it.