By Dave Morrison
When it came time for Christian Brand to accept his third straight BNI Memorial Classic trophy, Classic director Dave Hunter joked that he “has never heard of this guy. He must have sat around all summer.”
Everyone present laughed.
Brand has done little sitting recently.
On Monday, he won this third straight BNI Memorial Classic, coming from six shots down to win the title by two shots over Tad Tomblin. It was reminiscent of Stuart Appleby’s comeback from seven shots down in last year’s inaugural PGA Greenbrier Classic, which is rather ironic, considering they both played in this year’s Greenbrier Classic and neither made the cut.
Brand has also played in the NCAA national tournament in May, following his senior year at Marshall, the U.S. national amateur, won the state amateur last month at The Greenbrier and then, using the exception given to the Amateur champion, the Greenbrier Classic last week.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Brand said. “Especially playing in The Greenbrier Classic. I didn’t make the cut, but I learned a lot. Just to watch those guys and see how they act, how they do things. You try to take that and incorporate it into your game. It was a neat experience.”
The question is, how neat was it? Might Brand try to cast his lot into the pro ranks, as scuttlebutt has it?
“I don’t know,” Brand said. “I guess you could say I’m thinking about it. I’ve done some research on the subject. I want to be able to make an informed decision when that time comes. I talked to (state native and pro) David Bradshaw, picked his brain a little bit on the subject. I’ve got time. I’m still young (23).”
He knows the sacrifices that will have to be made. Eschewing potential job opportunities to roll the dice is one.
And moving away is another.
“You have to get sponsors,” Brand said. “And you have to get a place down South where you can play and practice all the time. You can go to Q-school. You can play in Monday qualifiers for Nationwide (Tour) and PGA (Tour) events or play on satellite tour.”
Those who played with Brand have little doubt he could make the transition.
“That kid is phenomenal,” Mike Powers said. “He hits the ball straight down the middle. He doesn’t make mistakes. He is a great putter. Absolutely, he has the game to do it.”
Derek Brooks, who shared a cart with Brand, said he got a lot out of playing with the defending West Virginia State Amateur champion.
“It was a good experience; it showed me a lot and let me know that I’m close,” Brooks said. “That’s the point I’m trying to get to, and I think I’m close. Playing with Christian helped me out a lot.”
Brand is definitely at the top of the leaderboard among state amateurs.
How long he stays there is anybody’s guess.
“Right now, I plan on defending the amateur title and then playing in the BNI again next year,” Brand said. “Like I said, I have plenty of time to think about the pro thing.”
Besides, he had a taste and is better for the experience.
— E-mail: demorrison@