By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Golf is not an easy game, even if some might make it seem that way.
Take Brandon Waters, for instance. The Summersville native shot a 1-under-par 71 in the second round of the 33rd annual Beckley Newspapers Memorial Golf Classic on Sunday. It was essentially his first competitive round on the course that saw plenty of high scores during its two-day run at the event.
“Not at all,” Waters said of his familiarity with Brier Patch. “I played one time in a scramble and I played the front nine last week when I came to practice.
“It’s one of those places where if you’re out of position that makes it pretty tough. It’s short, so as long as you keep the ball in play, you have some opportunities.”
The 28-year-old Waters didn’t start playing until he was a junior at Nicholas County High School, from which he graduated in 2003.
“A lot of my friends played, so I decided to start playing,” Waters said. “I would always go to the driving range and hit balls.”
Waters’ debut in competitive golf was a bit rough.
“I remember the first time I tried out for the high school (team), I didn’t even pass the (tryout). I shot a 115,” he said. “So, no, it was not easy. It’s not easy now.”
Maybe not, but 10 years after taking up the sport, Waters has himself in position to challenge for the BNI title. He trails leader and two-time champion Brandon Reece by four strokes going into today’s final round on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs — a course he is more familiar with than Brier Patch.
“I’ve played it a lot,” Waters said. “Keep it in the fairway and hit your irons. It’s like any course; you just have to keep it in play. The greens are big so you need to be on line or else you’re going to have long putts on fast greens.”
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Every year, the BNI serves as a welcome home party of sorts for many area natives who currently live out of state. A few of them include:
n Reece, a Beckley native who lost in a playoff to Bosten Miller in last year’s event, sells insurance in Raleigh, N.C.
n 2008 champion Alan Wharton, who carded a 71 at Brier Patch on Sunday, is a Summersville native who now resides in Columbus, Ohio. He is one-third of “Team Wharton” with his brothers Robert and Gary.
n Native Beckleyan David Crone works in the circulation department at The Washington Post. He and his daughter still attend as many West Virginia University football games as possible.
n Aaron Neal, also from Beckley, lives and works in Afghanistan.
— E-mail: gfauber@