The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

The BNI

August 9, 2010

Brand holds on to lead

Grandview proves trouble for golfers

Several first-round leaders of the 30th annual BNI Memorial Tournament got a little surprise Sunday.

The course at Grandview Country Club was no pushover.

Christian Brand and Brandon Reece, who each shot a 66 Saturday at Pipestem Resort to tie for first place, had a 70 and 73, respectively.

Tad Tomblin shot a 71, three strokes higher than at Pipestem, while Chris Sparks, who had matched Tomblin’s first-day 68, couldn’t buy a putt Sunday and finished with a 79.

“The course was in real good shape. The greens rolled good,” Sparks said. “I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole.”

That was the story for many of the golfers at Grandview. Par — a 72 — was achieved by just seven on the 6,834-yard course.

Brand, the defending BNI champion, held on to the lead despite his own putting miseries.

“I left a lot of them short,” he said. “I had a couple of dumb bogeys. Just a couple of mental errors.”

Brand, who recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur, is at 136, eight strokes under par and three ahead of foursome partner Bosten Miller, Reece and Tomblin.

“I brought it in two-under, so it’s not too bad,” the Charleston native and Marshall University golfer said. “I like this course. It’s short and the greens are good.”

Miller, who was tied for fourth Saturday with a 71, had one of the better second rounds with a 68.

“I started out real hot. I was four-under on the front nine,” said Miller, also a Charleston native and Thundering Herd golfer. “But I struggled midway through the back nine. I missed a lot of greens.

“There are some tricky holes in the back, but I buried the last two.”

Reece, a two-time BNI champion originally from Beckley and now living in North Carolina, had some struggles on the greens.

“I had a three-footer on No. 1 for a birdie and I missed it. I just couldn’t make any putts,” he said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable for some reason.”

Over at Pipestem Sunday, Chuck Workman shot a 67 on the par-72 course while Winston Canada matched his first-day round of 71. They’re tied for third place in the BNI with a 142.

Ian Patrick, who had a 69 at Pipestem, is next with a 143.

Jeff Miller, who had a 68 at Grandview, Nick Dent and Evan Muscari (a 72 and 71, respectively, at Pipestem) follow at 144.

Aaron Boggs, Andrew Mehler and Bruce Wetherholt (75, 72, 73 at Grandview Sunday) are tied at 145.

Eight golfers have 146s, including Joel Davis and four-time BNI champion Greg McGraw.

Davis, from Oak Hill, shot a 76 Sunday.

“Bad chipping and one bad hole,” he said. “I had a triple bogey on No. 7, a little par 3. I hit it to the right, not thinking, and it made for a 6 and spun me out of control for a while.”

McGraw won a tie-breaker over Davis to capture the Senior Division (ages 50-59) crown.

Jerry Hickman, who has won the BNI three times, topped the Silver Division (ages 60-69) with a 150, just ahead of Butch Freeman and Billy Lane.

Rick Thompson, with a 163, won the Gold Division (70 and over). Bob “Wheel” Thomas was second.

Today’s final round will be played on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.

“There’s always tomorrow,” Reece said. “I just have to make more putts.”

Sparks couldn’t have agreed more. The former Bluefield State College standout from Welch missed five-foot birdie putts on No. 1 and No. 3 at Grandview.

“I like Glade, but (doing well) depends on whether the putts fall or not,” he said. “They fell yesterday (at Pipestem), so we’ll see.”

Miller is hopeful of pulling out the win, but said anything can happen at Glade.

“It’s a whole lot different than these two courses. Par there is a low score while here you’re trying to make as many birdies as you can,” he said. “There probably won’t be as many low scores.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@register-herald.com

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