Well-respected golfing legend

Born: August 19, 1958;

Died: July 31, 2019

Gordon Brand Jr was one of the most popular golfers on the European tour throughout his career, which saw him gain regular tournament triumphs, make memorable appearances in the Ryder Cup, and gain the respect of his peers.

All of which helps explain why there was much sadness this week at the news of his sudden death, aged 60.

His compatriot, Sam Torrance, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup glory, summed it up best when he responded: “I am heartbroken to hear of Gordon’s passing.

“He was one of my dearest friends for over 40 years and I will miss him very much.”

Brand was born in Kirkcaldy in 1958 and soon displayed sporting prowess, especially with a golf club in his hand.

It was in his DNA, given that his father, Gordon Brand Snr, was a club professional in Bristol.

After turning professional in 1981, he quickly achieved success, winning that year’s European Tour Qualifying School, and subsequently emerging victorious in two European Tour events in his rookie season.

He went on to accumulate eight wins on the tour in total, the last of them in 1993 and enjoyed success at the 1988 West End South Australian Open.

He made the top ten on the European Tour’s Order of Merit six times, with a best placing of fourth in 1987, but was always happy to embrace the team ethic and proved a redoubtable competitor, whether on his own or in a group.

Brand participated in two Ryder Cups, the first in 1987, when Europe won on American soil for the first time at Muirfield Village, and again in 1989 when they retained the trophy at The Belfry by tying the matches 14-14.

Brand had a 2–4–1 win-loss-tie record, but he thrilled the crowds in these matches and later spoke of one particularly memorable shot at the Belfry, which provoked whoops of joy from the partisan crowd.

As he recalled: “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.’

“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 yards to the front edge, so I said to Sam, ‘I don’t think I can get there’.

“He replied: ‘You may as well have a heave.’ So I did it, 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 [captain] Tony Jacklin came running down the green like a headless chicken, saying: ‘Something low, something low!’

“Then I played a wedge off the back foot, sweet as a nut, and it pitched in the right place, skidded, stopped and, 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 has got to be one of the best shots I have ever played.”

Brand also represented Scotland in the amateur Eisenhower Trophy and the professional Alfred Dunhill Cup and World Cup many times.

However, the Scot, in common with many other sporting figures, found life more difficult after his powers began to fade.

He admitted: “I suppose around 2000 I started to struggle, then six years later I just packed it in. It wasn’t because new talent was coming in – it was because my own talent was waning.

“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 and it was tough.’

However, Brand forged a new career in Seniors golf and was still playing on the StaySure tour, as well as commentating, most recently covering Shane Lowry’s victory at the Open at Royal Portrush.

He never lost the bug, yet remained a down-to-earth character who lit up the fairways wherever he went.

He is survived by his wife Sheena.