WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Christian Brand's shoulder-rubbing Thursday on the PGA Tour didn't produce the results he was hoping for, but there were plenty of moments he will cherish for years to come.
Brand, a former Marshall and Capital High School standout, turned in an 8-over-par 78 on the historic Old White TPC course and tied for 154th in the 156-player field in the opening round of the second annual Greenbrier Classic. The 23-year-old Brand won his first West Virginia Amateur earlier this month to earn an exemption for this week's PGA Tour event, in which he is the only amateur competing.
"I played with a couple of good guys and we had some fun out there and then you have your best friend [Bosten Miller] as caddy,'' said Brand, who was paired with Bio Kim and Joseph Bramlett in the afternoon. "It's been a great experience. I had my gallery with me the entire day through thick and thin.
"There were a couple of moments out there where it was just awesome. On the first tee that was incredible. When they announced my name the ovation was so loud. It had to be one of the loudest of the day. Then birdeying 18 in front of everybody in the grandstands and the 'We Are Marshall' chants on 17, it was cool. I'm just happy with today.''
Brand began Thursday's round with three straight bogeys followed by a par then three more bogeys for a 6-over 40 on the front nine. He played the back nine respectably with three bogeys and his only birdie on No. 18 for a 2-over 38. The field will be cut after today's round.
"I actually putted pretty well today,'' said Brand, who was selected to play this year in the NCAA Division I regionals as an individual. "I hit all the putts where I wanted to, but they just kind of wobbled off line here and there and a couple of misreads. I'm not mad about today. A 78 is not what I wanted, but I'm not angry with the way I played.
"There was a stretch when I made I don't know how many bogeys in a row. It was just like I had par putt after par putt after par putt that I hit right on the line and it just didn't go in. There's really nothing you can do about it. No one expected me to do anything special so I just go out there and smile and I'm taking it all in.''
Brand, who has played in the state Amateur since he was 15 years old, said the Old White TPC course did indeed have a different feel. Old White was one of the courses in the state Amateur rotation until this year when it was taken out for renovations for this year's Classic.
"The greens are a lot different,'' he said. "The new turf they put down is much different. When it comes in it's going to be just absolutely wonderful. It's a lot firmer than the practice round, but it's a great golf course with the changes they've made.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.