Brehaut Scrambles for Lead at Honda
Friday, March 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) _ Jeff Brehaut spent three frantic days trying to replace his stolen golf clubs before the Honda Classic. He didn't have to scramble nearly as much in the first round of the tournament.
Brehaut shot a 9-under 63 at The Country Club at Mirasol on Thursday, giving him a share of the lead with Justin Leonard and Notah Begay III when play was suspended because of lightning.
``I guess it would be hard to complain,'' said Brehaut, a 39-year-old father of two who retained his tour card by winning the qualifying tournament in December.
Brehaut might need three similar rounds to win his first PGA Tour title.
The leaders were on pace to break the tour scoring record for 72 holes, which is 31 under, set by Ernie Els this year in the season-opening Mercedes Championships. Esteban Toledo, John Senden and Jim Furyk were one stroke back.
Playing a relatively short course that measures 7,157 yards and has fast fairways, well-manicured greens and little wind _ the course's only defense _ more than 30 players were at least 5 under. And the first round hasn't even been completed.
Nearly 40 player were on the course when play was halted Thursday afternoon. They were scheduled to finish the opening round Friday morning.
``This is going to be one of those weeks where if you are not making birdies, guys are going to be running over your back with spikes,'' said Begay, whose nine birdies came during a 10-hole stretch.
Brehaut's bogey-free round came after a frustrating week of preparation.
He had just finished watching a movie with his wife and kids Saturday night at their Sunnyvale, Calif., home when he realized his clubs _ about two dozen in all _ were missing from the garage. The garage door had been left open with the light on earlier that evening, and he figured someone must have driven by, noticed his golf bag, sneaked in and took them.
``That's a big deal,'' said Brehaut, whose best finish this year is a tie for 13th at the Chrysler Classic two weeks ago. ``The last three days I've been running around here really trying to get those issues settled.''
Brehaut got to the course early Monday and starting searching for the perfect clubs from onsite manufacturers. He got the shafts cut to the proper length, the heads shaved to the desired weight, and then made sure they felt right.
His wedges and putter were more troublesome. He had the wedges shipped Wednesday, raced to get them fitted, then spent hours testing them at the range.
He didn't even pick a putter until Thursday morning, having been unable to find one exactly like the one that was stolen. Brehaut ended up with one much heavier than he prefers.
It didn't seem to matter. He needed just 24 putts in the opening round _ which ended with his best score ever on tour.
``You've just got to go out there and every (birdie) you get is one you don't have to worry about later,'' he said. ``When you start thinking about what you're shooting, you're in trouble. You kind of just go about your business and add them up at the end and hopefully you can keep pace.''