By Cam Huffman
It would be easy to assume that winning a third BNI Memorial Golf Classic title would be the highlight of the summer for Brandon Reece. But if that’s the case, Reece better not let one person hear him give that answer — his fiancée, Megan.
Now an insurance agent in Raleigh, N.C., the Beckley native will be getting married back in North Carolina in five weeks, and he said there’s too much work in front of him to let the celebration of his victory in the 33rd BNI last too long.
Reece, though, will find time to squeeze in a little golf. He’ll be playing in the North Carolina Mid-Amatuer later this summer, as well as a couple of club championships.
But no tournament, he said, means as much to him as the BNI.
“Being from Beckley, it’s always a tournament that I look forward to and want to win,” said Reece, who said the BNI is his only competitive round in the Mountain State each year. “It’s nice to come back and see some friends and play some golf courses like Brier Patch, that I grew up on, and Glade Springs, where I worked for three or four years. It’s always nice to come back.”
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There was another young golfer in this year’s BNI field hoping to one day follow in Reece’s footsteps and win the tournament on his home turf some day. Shady Spring High School’s Todd Albaugh, who will be a senior this year, was a late addition to the tournament, but he more than proved he belonged. Albaugh shot a 7-over-par 223 for the tournament and finished in 12th place.
“I really appreciate them giving me the chance to play,” said the Shady Tiger, who was at even-par heading into Monday’s final round. “I’ll definitely be back.”
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Former Woodrow Wilson assistant basketball coach Butch Freeman had a unique good luck charm with him as he battled for a win in the third flight Monday in the tournament, played in honor of his good friend, Andy Holland.
Before teeing off at the Cobb Course at Glade Springs, Freeman went to visit his mother, who gave him a coin with an angel on each side. Freeman used that coin as his ball marker, and it worked.
Twelfth in his flight when the round began, four shots behind four golfers tied at the top of the flight, Freeman carded his best round of the tournament, shooting a 74 to beat every other competitor in his flight by nine strokes. He won the flight by three strokes over John Handy.
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There were a couple of emotional moments during the trophy presentation Monday outside of the pro shop at The Resort at Glade Springs.
Former BNI director Pat Hanna was on hand for the festivities, just days after losing his wife, Beth, to cancer.
“The BNI lost a great friend,” said current BNI tournament director David Hunter. “I hope everybody will remember Pat and his family in their prayers. I hope Pat knows that we’re all here for him if there’s anything he needs.”
Hunter also recognized Holland, presenting a plaque to two of his family members, Darrell and Dixie Garcia.
“I never had the pleasure of knowing him,” said Hunter. “But I have heard a lot of great stories about Andy, and I’m glad we were able to honor him.”
“Andy was a great guy,” said Darrell upon accepting the plaque. “He would have loved to have been here.”
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Just enjoying the moment was also the sentiment of the runner-up, Kelly Shumate.
“I’ve got so many good friends, that I don’t care if I shoot 85 every day,” said Shumate, admitting that the tournament comes at the perfect time, giving him a nice break after months of almost nonstop work preparing for The Greenbrier Classic. “Just getting out and seeing some of my friends that I don’t see too much is all this is about.
“Now, I’m competitive, and I want to play good, but I don’t have huge expectations when I come out.”
Shumate said he started to regain his feel for the game after shaking off a little rust in the opening round, but he’ll likely lose it again, with very little time in his life to hit the links — at least with a golf club in his hand.
“I feel pretty good right now,” he said after a 2-under-par 70 Monday. “But to be honest with you, I’ll play in a member-guest (tournament) with a good friend here next month, and that will probably be it for the year.”
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.
Late entrant Albaugh shoots well; Freeman has luck on his side
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