SISSONVILLE (AP) - Charleston's Christian Brand overcame some early struggles with his driver to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the West Virginia Open.
Brand shot a 5-under-par 66 Wednesday at Edgewood Country Club, one shot better than Edgewood pro Craig Berner and Hurricane amateur Sam O'Dell.
"I would have taken 66 at the beginning of the day," Brand said. "I'm happy with the start of the tournament."
Jonathan Clark watches his tee shot during the first round Wednesday.
Brand is a former Marshall golfer who won the 2011 West Virginia Amateur and turned professional last month. His best finish in the Open is a tie for second in 2007.
Brand got off to an ordinary start. Beginning his round on the 10th hole, he made six straight pars before birdies on two par 5s. He three-putted for par on the front side's other par 5. Later in the round Brand had four birdies in a five-hole stretch before making bogey on the final hole.
His reached only seven fairways but got some solid iron play, hitting 14 greens in regulation.
"My front nine I kind of struggled off the tee, hit it in some bad spots, but really scrambled well," Brand said. "I then turned and put it in the fairway a little bit more. I relieved some stress."
The last time the Open was held at Edgewood in 2004, the winning score was 7 under. So Brand knows he'll be challenged to keep up the torrid pace.
"I don't try to put numbers as goals," he said. "I just go out there and try to shoot as low as I can each day and move on. Really I just go out there and try to make as many birdies as I can."
Wheeling's Bryan Myers and Cole Hand both sit six shots back after scoring 72.
Wheeling's Joey Seabright carded a 76, while Moundsville's Pete Kurelac III and Wheeling's Marshall Hone had scores of 77 and 79, respectively.
Berner won the tournament in 2005 when it was held at Snowshoe Mountain. Like Brand, Berner birdied three of his home course's four par 5s Wednesday.
It's part of a busy week for Berner, who on Friday night will fly to San Francisco to join Charleston's Barry Evans at the PGA Professional National Championship in Seaside, Calif.
But first thing's first. Berner would love nothing more to give the local fans something to remember.
"Honestly, I want to win this more than anything," he said. "I think it would be great for our membership. Being at this course, I want this more than anything in the world. The only thing I second it to is my kids being born."
Berner also captured Tuesday's prelude to the Open - the Coca-Cola Shootout. That winner has never won the Open in the same year.
O'Dell had six birdies and two bogeys on his card. Both bogeys came on par 3s. O'Dell's best finish in the tournament came when he finished second in 2002.
A group of five golfers at 3 under included four-time champion Scott Davis, 2001 winner Jonathan Clark, Hurricane's Brian Anania, Parkersburg's Kenneth Hess and Clendenin's Todd Westfall.
Mason's Trent Roush and Charleston's Bosten Miller each shot 2 under.
Defending champion David Bradshaw and 2011 runner-up Bob Friend are at 1 under. Bradshaw is trying to become the first to win four straight state Opens since Sam Snead in the early 1970s.
Friend has seven straight top 10 finishes and lost in a playoff to Bradshaw last year.