The eight-time European Tour winner and two-time Ryder Cup player has passed away at the age of 60
Gordon Brand Jnr Dies Aged 60
Sottish professional golfer Gordon Brand Jnr has died aged 60.
The cause of death is currently unknown but it wasn’t clear that he had been suffering from any long term illnesses having worked on the Open Radio at Royal Portrush just a couple of weeks ago.
He was due to play in this week’s Staysure Tour PGA Senior’s Championship at the London Club and passed away just hours after his final practice round.
There will be a minutes silence to honour him.
The Scot won eight times on the European Tour from 1982-1993 and played in two Ryder Cups in 1987 and 1989.
He turned professional in 1981 and won twice in his rookie season on the European Tour at the Coral Classic and Bob Hope British Classic.
He made 18 Open Championship appearances with his best finish coming at Muirfield in 1992 where he was T5th.
In total, he won 11 times as a professional with his last victory coming in 2013 on the European Senior Tour.
The 60-year-old had still been playing plenty of golf on the European Staysure Tour, competing most recently at the Swiss Senior Open earlier this month.
The Scot made his Ryder Cup debut in 1987 at Muirfield Village where Tony Jacklin’s Europeans won on away soil for the first time with a 15-13 victory against Jack Nicklaus’ USA.
Brand Jnr partnered Jose Rivero to win his opening fourball point before playing three more times including in the singles where he halved his match with Hal Sutton.
He played again in 1989 as Tony Jacklin’s Europe halved 14-14 with Raymond Floyd’s USA team.
Brand Jnr twice partnered Sam Torrance before losing 1 down to Mark McCumber in the singles.
Watch – The best of Brand Jnr’s Ryder Cup career
A number of tributes came in for Brand Jnr on social media from the golfing world –
Justin Rose paid tribute on Twitter: “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”.
The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster wrote on Twitter, “Very sad news this morning, especially after Gordon was his normal bouncy self when he was doing some broadcasting at @TheOpen a fortnight ago…..”
Graeme Storm also paid tribute on social media:
Scottish pro Richie Ramsay wrote on Twitter, “Sorry to hear this, followed him when I was a youngster around the @dunhilllinks. Always a name I would watch out for”.
Brand Jnr was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife and his father Gordon Brand Snr was a club pro in Bristol, where he would reside.
Gordan Brand Jnr Q&A: GM’s Jezz Ellwood caught up with the Scotsman in 2015 –
When did your main tour career wind down?
I suppose around 2000 I started to struggle, then six years later I just packed it in. I started to lose my confidence and my game. It wasn’t because new talent was coming in – it was because my talent was waning.
Was that hard to take?
Very, very hard, because from the ages of 23 to 47 I spent more of my life with other people than my wife, travelling round the world. It was the French Open in 2006 – I missed the cut and thought, “That’s it, I’m packing it in.” All of a sudden those people I’d been around for so long weren’t really part of my life any more. There were some great friendships there and that was the part that hurt most.
How did you fill your time?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do and made a few mistakes playing small events and small tours. I was just trying to play golf still, but in the wrong environment, coming off a very good tour, a very exciting tour and one that I’d done very well on. That was a major mistake.
So what did you do then?
I contacted Gloucester Golf Union where I’d been a junior, as I thought I could help the kids. For the next few years I looked after the under-16s as I wanted to help those with less knowledge who were maybe more open to ideas. I started working with Gloucester, then Somerset got hold of me, then South-West got hold of me, and within two years I was doing England squad stuff as well. I really, really enjoyed that, and then I got the opportunity to do some radio work.
What do you regard as your best win?
That’s easy – my first win in the 1982 Coral Classic at Royal Porthcawl. I’d won amateur tournaments in Scotland, the Brabazon, played Eisenhower Trophy twice, Walker Cup and all that, so I had the pedigree to be potentially good. But potential doesn’t always equate to being able to compete on tour. I went to Porthcawl after winning the Tour School and won playing alongside Greg, who was breathing down my neck. I think it was by three shots, and I never really wavered. That said to me, “You can actually do this.”
A lot of guys say that when you turn pro you’re starting from scratch…
When you turn pro, no-one cares. It’s not that no-one cares, but the other pros don’t care because what are we there for? Most of us are there to make a living or to start a career or continue in a career. So you make a double bogey, and inwardly they’re probably quite happy because that’s you on the downward trend, and you can understand that. It shouldn’t be called the European Tour, it should be called the Me Tour, because it is all about me.
How does that sit alongside all the off-course camaraderie?
You have to be very brutal and stubborn on the course. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing with someone you’ve played with for 20 years, it is very much about focus and that focus is about me. While I don’t want to ever put anyone off, I can’t let them influence what I’m doing. So it is very me, me, me on the course, but next minute, you’ve done that, scored whatever you’ve scored, and you meet up in the bar at 7.00 and have a few beers and a laugh.
Talk us through your famous 40 yard bunker shot on 18 in the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry…
The Americans – Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger – hit weakish tee-shots, but were both in play. Sam Torrance, my partner, said, “I’ll go next, Gordon.” He pulled it, and it landed 6in over the hazard, but he was miles up there, so he said, “Just get yours in play – I’m in a great position.” I knocked it just behind the Americans, and had something like 240 to the front edge, so I said to Sam, “I don’t think I can get there.” He said, “You may as well have a heave!” So I had a heave, and it went into the stands and came back into the bunker. I got to my ball and Sam went to his, and next thing Tony Jacklin came running down the green like a headless chicken, saying, “Something low, something low!” I said, “Tony, I’m fine.” I played a wedge off the back foot sweet as a nut, and it pitched in the right place, skidded, stopped and then a few minutes later I had a putt to win the point and knocked it in. Needing to win the hole for the match, that’s got to be one of the best shots I’ve ever played.
When did you decide to try the senior tour?
It was never in the plan. But when I was doing the coaching – especially the England coaching – it rekindled a bit of what I’d lost. I started playing a bit and thought, “You know what, first year I’ll give it a go.” My first tournament was at Slaley Hall, and I Iost in a play-off after two and a half years of not really playing any competitive golf.
Do you still enjoy it?
I enjoy the golf. The travelling and the hotels and the queues are a major pain. Because there aren’t the rewards that there were on the main tour, the queues just seem to get longer and slower!
That an age thing, isn’t it?
That’s right. People say, “Oh you’re going to Portugal, that will be lovely.” If I went to Portugal for a week on holiday, I bet it would be fantastic, because Portugal’s a lovely place. But it’s airport, golf course, hotel, golf course, hotel, airport, home! It becomes a bit wearing. But then with regard to the bonds that were broken in 2006, I’m fortunate to be around people like Mark Mouland, Roger Chapman and Jamie Spence again, who are great friends of mine.