Tait: Gordon Brand Jr. loved a laugh, played the game as it was meant to be played

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Tait: Gordon Brand Jr. loved a laugh, played the game as it was meant to be played

Euro Tour

Tait: Gordon Brand Jr. loved a laugh, played the game as it was meant to be played

By

WOBURN, England – Gordon Brand Jr. was his typical self two weeks ago at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

“What do you know?” he said as he sat down to breakfast in the media center.

“The usual: nothing.”

“No change there, then,” Brand replied. “I don’t know why I even ask you anymore. You’re as useless as ever.”

Brandie, as he was known to his friends, liked a bit of banter, actually a lot of banter, and could give it as well as take it.

“And I suppose you’re a font of all knowledge?”

“No, same as you,” he replied. “I know nothing too.”

“That’s probably why we’re sitting together.”

“Yup,” he said.

Hard to believe this likeable guy has departed to that great clubhouse in the sky at age 60. He looked fit as the proverbial fiddle at Portrush while working as an on-course color commentator for The Open Radio.

Born in 1958 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Brand knew how to play the game and play it well. You only had to listen to club on ball to know this guy was as pure a ball striker to play the Euro circuit in the 1980s and ’90s. He won eight times on the European Tour, and twice on the European senior circuit, the Staysure Tour.

He played in two Ryder Cups, appearing in the victorious 1987 team at Muirfield Village, and the 1989 team that retained the trophy at The Belfry with a 14-14 draw.

He was popular with everyone on Tour: players, journalists and officials alike. No surprise that tributes came pouring in through Twitter on the news of his death.

“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Gordon Brand Jnr one of my dearest friends for over 40 years, I will miss you RIP,” tweeted Sam Torrance, Brand’s Ryder Cup partner.

Justin Rose added: “So sad… I remember watching him play as a kid for the first time at the @BMWPGA and getting his signed golf ball on the 18th hole. #RIPGBjnr.”

Thomas Bjorn chipped in, “When I came on Tour in 1996 this was one of the men that helped me understand what it was all about. A great man, a great friend, that has left us way too early. Thank you Junior for everything. RIP.”

Fellow Scot Ken Brown took time out to remember Brand while working as an on-course commentator at this week’s $4.1 million AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn.

“Great player, great guy and so, so sad to hear of his passing,” said Brown, who played with Brand on the victorious 1987 European Ryder Cup team. “He loved a laugh and a good story and was great company. Can’t believe he’s gone.”

This writer can’t believe he’s gone either. The breakfast conversation was one of several I had during the Open Championship, one of too many to mention over the years. My fellow Scot revelled in taking the mickey out of me every chance he got. Not just me, but many others too.

Yet while he was one of the most affable and approachable players I dealt with during my career, he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Brandie wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when something was amiss, like the Spanish tournament when he took a popular local pro to task for being, shall we say, a little lax with the rules. Said player was disqualified after Brand reported him, and local galleries booed the Scot for the final two rounds as a result.

“Was it worth it?” I once asked him.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You’ve got to play the game the way it’s meant to be played, otherwise why play?”

Brandie played the game the way it was meant to be played. He lived his life the way it was meant to be lived, not taking himself or others too seriously but glad to be making a living doing something he loved.

R.I.P. Brandie.

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