By Cam Huffman
Brandon Reece was so upset after losing in a playoff to Bosten Miller at the 2012 BNI Memorial Golf Classic, he left his runner-up trophy behind.
The Beckley native picked up that trophy Monday at The Resort at Glade Springs and added some new hardware to go with the old. Reece shot a 1-under 71 during the final round on the Cobb Course to win his third BNI championship. His 8-under 208 for the tournament was six shots better than Kelly Shumate, who finished at 2-under.
“It definitely feels good,” said Reece, who also won the tournament in 2006 and 2007. “It felt like the last four or five tournaments I finished second place, and I was 0-and-3 in playoffs. It felt good to have a little more comfortable lead coming down to the last few holes.”
Holding a three-shot advantage heading into the final round of this year’s tournament — played in honor of 1985 champion Andy Holland and sponsored by First Community Bank, with assistance from Lewis Automotive — Reece basically put the trophy in his pocket when he birdied three of the first four holes Monday.
Michael Powers, who was in second heading into the round, could never mount a charge. He posted a 9-over 81 on the final round to finish in 10th place at 5-over for the tournament.
The other two in the final group — Brandon Waters and Aaron Kemlock — didn’t put much pressure on the leader, either. Waters finished fifth at even-par for the tournament with a final-round 75, while Kemlock’s 79 placed him ninth at 5-over.
“There was still pressure,” said Reece. “You could have a 20-shot lead, but funny things happen in tournament golf. You could hit one out of bounds or something, so that stuff stays in the back of your head.”
Shumate’s charge came from well back. He was seven shots behind Reece heading into the round at even-par for the tournament and had seven players between him and the leader.
“I knew Brandon would really have to falter for me to have a chance, but I had it going pretty good early,” said The Greenbrier’s director of golf course maintenance, who was 3-under after the first nine holes. “Brandon’s a really good player, so I knew I was probably playing for second.”
Alan Wharton, the 2008 champion, finished third with a 1-under 215 after an even-par 72 Monday, winning a tiebreaker over Derek Brooks, who posted the round of the day with a 69 to finish 1-under, as well.
“I hit the ball well,” said Brooks. “I had two bogeys, and both were three-putts on par-5s. I missed one green all day, so I hit the ball solid all day long.
“I didn’t finish well at Grandview or Brier Patch,” he added, admitting that he’s kicking himself thinking about what could have been. “I was 4-under through 12 holes at Grandview and shot even par, and I was 1-under through 15 at Brier Patch and shot 2-over. I just didn’t finish well those two days.”
The day, though, belonged to Reece, who wasn’t about to let anybody else take home the big trophy this year.
“I look forward to this tournament,” said the former University of Charleston golfer, who admitted that now that he’s won three times, he already has his eye on No. 4. “I played a good round, and starting off with a birdie really helped.”
Other flight winners Monday included Ed McCall (first flight), J.R. Scott (second flight), Butch Freeman (third flight), Dewayne Durham (fourth flight), Sam Townley (fifth flight), Terrence Beam (sixth flight), Jeff Hughes (seventh flight), Mike Vallo (eighth flight), Buddy Crowder (ninth flight) and Jimmy Lane (10th flight).
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter@CamHuffmanRH.