The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


August 10, 2010

Two straight for Brand

Marshall rising senior wins second BNI Memorial

GRANDVIEW — With the field in full pursuit, Christian Brand went into defense mode.

And the Marshall University golfer did what he had to do to win his second straight BNI Memorial Golf Tournament Monday at The Resort at Glade Springs’ Cobb Course.

Brand, who will be a senior this fall, shot a 3-under 69 to cruise to the championship, beating second-place finisher Tad Tomblin, who was playing in the group ahead of Brand, by five strokes.

“Hit the fairways and hit the greens,” Brand said of his strategy coming into the final day of the BNI in which he held a three-shot lead over Marshall teammate Bosten Miller and Brandon Reece. “If you do that it puts the pressure on them. And that’s basically what I did. If you told me before I’d shoot a 69 I’d take it and feel pretty good about my chances.”

Brand became the third golfer to win back-to-back BNI titles.

Leigh Smith, who has three BNI titles, went back-to-back in 1999-2000 and Reece won it in consecutive years in 2006-2007.

“This was a really good field,” Brand said. “To win it twice is special. This tournament is run really well and it’s a lot of fun. I didn’t feel any pressure coming in, but I felt like I would finish well because I have been playing great golf.”

Earlier in the week Brand qualified for the U.S. Amateur.

Tomblin finished second after a super slow start ended with a super finish.

The golfer who is originally from Man started out 4-over through his opening 10 holes.

But he finished with a flourish, going 5-under through his last eight holes, including an eagle on 18.

That helped him catapult Miller, who finished third at 211.

“I was just trying to salvage something,” Tomblin said. “I had played pretty well through the first two rounds and I didn’t want to throw that all away. Growing up in Man, I grew up playing with a lot of these guys and I wanted to have a solid finish.”

Miller admitted that he was chasing his Thundering Herd teammate and he knew mistakes would have to be limited.

“We played evenly through the first nine (both were 2-under at the turn) but on the backside I hit a couple shots over the green and you can’t do that here, playing against good competition,” Miller said. “(Brand) has been playing great.”

“Great player and I didn’t play well at all,” said Reece, who was playing in the final group but struggled on the day. “I didn’t hit the ball well and I didn’t make any putts. It’s a great tournament, though, and it was a tough field.”

Reece, from Beckley, now lives in Raleigh, N.C. He said he planned to drive back Monday night and work today.

The tournament was played in honor of the late Ben McGraw, a young golfer who died tragically last year.

“It was a super tournament,” said his dad, Greg, a four-time BNI champion who was in the championship flight again this year.

“I think Ben would have been proud. You know he loved golf and playing in this tournament. We appreciate everything the newspaper and all three courses did.”

While not really challenged, except perhaps on No. 5, when a deer charged across the fairway behind as he was ready to hit an approach shot, causing him to step away from the ball momentarily, Brand said he never took anything for granted.

“It’s a crazy game,” he said. “But riding with Bosten today, being able to joke around like we would any other time, certainly took the pressure off. It was a lot of fun. (Tournament director) Pat Hanna and the people running this tournament do an excellent job. I keep telling people after I leave this tournament that they should play in it.”

Tomblin agreed.

“Obviously it’s not the Open or the Amateur, but I don’t think there is another tournament in the state that has this kind of camaraderie,” he said. “If there is one, I can’t think of it.”

— E-mail: demorrison@

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