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Greenbrier experience is meaningful for ex-Herd golfer Christian Brand

By DAVID WALSH

The Herald-Dispatch

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – About six weeks ago, Christian Brand heard the news he wanted.

The Charleston native and former member of the Marshall University men’s golf team received official word of an exemption into The Greenbrier Classic.

Christian Brand has played Old White TPC many times. When he won the 2011 West Virginia Amateur, he got an exemption into the PGA Tour event that year. The par-70 course then and now are quite different.
(Photo by Sholten Singer)

“It means a lot to me,” Brand said on a rainy Wednesday before the start of the PGA Tour event Thursday on Old White TPC at The Greenbrier Resort. “I’m a West Virginian getting to play in the biggest sporting event in West Virginia. What could be better than that?”

Brand convinced Greenbrier Classic officials he deserved the good fortune with his recent play on the Web.com Tour. He tied for 17th in the Rex Hospital Open and BMW Charity Pro-Am. The past three weeks he missed cuts by one, two and one shots.

“The last three weeks have been an aberration,” he said. “I was a little tired. I’m not used to traveling, playing that much. I’m learning to schedule correctly, rest correctly. That’s why I’m sitting right now.”

The 29-year-old has a 1:50 p.m. Thursday tee time off No. 1 in a group that includes PGA Tour players Sam Saunders, grandson of the late Arnold Palmer, and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia.

Brand said it’s about more than just making cuts on the Web.comTour.

“Making cuts doesn’t mean success, missing cuts doesn’t mean you’re unsuccessful,” Brand said. “It’s all about winning. That’s something that can happen. I have the game now. It’s a validation. It all about putting it together on a consistent basis.”

The Greenbrier Classic starts a stretch of eight consecutive weeks Brand and his wife, Sarah, will be traveling to tournaments. He won’t play July 19-21 in the West Virginia Open at Edgewood Country Club in Sissonville, W.Va. He’s a two-time Open winner.

“I hope I don’t ever have to play in that tournament again,” he said. “That’s no disrespect intended. It’s setting the bar high.”

Brand knows he’ll have extra support this week.

“It’s golf,” Brand said. “If I hit a good shot, it means I’ll get a little more applause, it’ll get a little louder.”

Brand has played Old White TPC many times. When he won the 2011 West Virginia Amateur, he got an exemption into the PGA Tour event that year. The par-70 course then and now are quite different.

Disastrous flooding last June 23-24 ravaged Old White TPC, the resort’s other courses, the resort itself and the town.

“You can look at it two ways,” Brand said. “Then and now, or what if there was no flood and they made the changes. I think it’s better. The players are talking about it. They like it. I played with D.A. Points this morning (practice) and he said the changes made it better.”

Brand recalls the photos he saw and stories he read about the floods and the ongoing recovery effort. Some first responders who helped in the relief effort served as caddies in a Wednesday Pro-Am.

“This shows you what West Virginia is all about,” he said. “You think just how bad things were and then look around today. What a job the people did.”

Brand has notes on the course and is ready to play in the $7.1 million tournament.

“It’s a big week, but it’s also part of the process,” Brand said. “That’s what I’ve believed since I turned pro. Every day, every week is a learning experience.”

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