Brand, Bradshaw share first at Pro-Am

VIENNA – A decade later and Charleston’s Christian Brand is still tearing up Parkersburg Country Club.

One day after placing runner-up in the Coca-Cola Shootout, the 25-year-old golfer tied fellow professional David Bradshaw with a 6-under par 66 to share first-place honors at Monday’s West Virginia Open Pro-Am.

Brand remembers playing what was then called the Top Flite Junior Tour at Parkersburg Country Club. His memory served him well.

“I remember general holes, but I played the Coca-Cola Shootout and seeing the whole course today – the guys I played with were some of my good friends and they played here, so they helped me with some lines off the tee,” Brand said. “So it’s coming back. To be honest, I forgot how good the course was.”

Bradshaw, who on Wednesday will begin his quest of a seventh West Virginia Open championship, had issues with the 10th and 11th holes. Otherwise, the Harpers Ferry native is gaining a feel for a course he had not played until 2 1/2 rounds ago.

“I’m getting comfortable with some of the shots off the tee and lines,” Bradshaw said. “I made eight birdies and felt like I could have maybe rattled off another couple. So tee to green, I played pretty good.”

Three golfers tied at 68, including local products Kenny Hess of Parkersburg and Alan Cooke from Vienna. They were joined by Jason Robinson of Charles Town.

“I had my ‘B’ game all day,” said Hess, who opened his round with a birdie on the very first hole at 18 and recorded his second birdie three holes later. “I felt like I didn’t hit it very good, but I played steady and kept it in play.

“I feel like if I bring my ‘A’ game two of the three days at the tournament, I will be deep. I just feel comfortable. It’s my home golf course.”

At 18 years of age, Cooke headlined a group which consisted of his sister (Natalie Cooke), two uncles (Randy Rogers and Paul Astorg) and grandmother (Barbara Astorg) as part of the modified scramble.

Other than a double-bogey on No. 12 and missing a 5-foot putt for birdie on his final hole at No. 7, Alan Cooke had his game working on his home course.

“It’s a lot easier when you are out here with your family hitting some balls around,” Cooke said. “When you are in a competition, it’s a lot different.”

Cooke will join the rest of the 120-member field for the 80th West Virginia Open for a practice round today. The 54-hole tournament begins on Wednesday.

“It will be a little more tense Wednesday, but my having my dad (as my caddy) will help me a lot,” Cooke said. “He’ll read some putts and keep me calm. The main thing is keeping my nerves under control.”

Cooke’s group finished with the second lowest net score at 52 and tied for third overall.

Robinson’s group from Galaxy Distributing claimed first place in the gross division at 19-under par 53. Members of the team included Aaron Boggs, Michael Foust, Ian Patrick and Rick McCormick.

Brandon Tinney of Hurricane, who shot a 74, was the featured golfer of the Huntington Banks group which captured first place in the low net division at 51. Members of the group included Shawn Sandy, Charlie Dusic, Rick Miller and Joe Letnaunchyn.

A total of three entries finished at 51 in the net division.