We revisit a 2017 interview with Gordon J Brand, a five-time Senior Tour winner and Ryder Cup player, who has died at the age of 65
Gordon J Brand has died at the age of 65 after a short illness. A firm fixture on the Senior Tour, where he won five times, Brand won once on the main tour – the Belgian Open in 1989.
His best return money wise was a well-known second place in the Open Championship where Greg Norman finally broke through in the majors at Turnberry in 1986.
Another notable, and unique, win came when he beat his namesake, Gordon Brand Jr, in a record-equalling six-hole play-off at Slaley Hall in the 2008 PGA Seniors Championship.
In a chat with NCG in 2017, he looked back at his biggest highlights, including that Open and Europe’s near miss in the Ryder Cup at PGA National in 1983…
“I am best known for either the Ryder Cup in ‘83 or for finishing second in the Open in ‘86. At Turnberry I made an eagle at the 17th and came back in 32 after going out in 39 to sneak ahead of Langer and Woosnam.
“I played with the first two rounds with Tom Watson. He was my best all-round player. After a few holes he hit one into a fairway bunker. I stood on top of the bunker and thought, try and get out of this one.
“He hit a 6-iron 180 yards to the front of the green and I thought ‘I couldn’t do that’. When I saw some players do things I never thought I couldn’t do it but then I thought this guy can play.
“I played with Greg Norman on the third day, the day after he had shot his 63. Greg was always good, it was just surprising that he didn’t win more than he did.
“Potentially he could have won every week but obviously no-one does that. He was solid in every part of his game. There was no weakness and you felt every course suited him. I finished second and won £50,000 and I was told a week later that that was the biggest cheque that a European player had won in a European Tour event.
“I saw Howard Clark a few weeks later and he had won two events in a row and said he was cheesed off. I asked why and he said that he’d won £40,000 for winning two events and I got £50,000 for coming second in one!
“I never played the Masters, it’s the only thing I felt I missed out on. My second place at the Open didn’t get me into other tournaments. Jack Nicklaus invited me to the Memorial but that was after the Ryder Cup.
“I went and qualified for the US Open and missed the cut. I was impressed. At the time there were almost 100 spots for the qualifiers and 50 for exempts, in our Open it was the other way round.
“I used to have a pause at the top of my backswing. I lost it in 2000. The pause had got longer but I never used to know. You didn’t have lessons with cameras. I didn’t try to stop pausing. I had lessons with Peter Tupling at Sand Moor in Leeds and he would say ‘do it again, you didn’t pause, do it again’ and from then on the pause had gone. It was never deliberate to do it.
“The 83 Ryder Cup was good and bad. It was bad that I was playing poorly but I didn’t get much chance as I only played the singles. It doesn’t help playing one match. You should always get two games.
“I got an idea that Tony Jacklin thought I was going to have plenty of time for shopping rather than playing. I think historically it’s shown that you never get 12 players playing well but if you play your best players all the time they tire out and then of course your players who don’t play struggle because they’re not ready for it. But Jacklin was great, we were made to feel special and everything was paid for.
“At the end of the week the PGA chief was in charge of signing the bills that we’d signed for during the week in the hotel. I’d signed mine off for $250 and he said that was fine. Ken Brown’s bill was $950, they said we’ll pay $450 and Ken pay $500 and he was absolutely fine with that.
“Then it came to Brian Waites and he said ‘Colin, is this alright?’ – his total was $25. Brian was always careful and it was impressive that he was careful with other people’s money. That was the way he was, most people would have taken advantage.”