A long long road to Bethpage for Brehaut

By Associated PressJune 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' If golf hadnt worked out, Jeff Brehaut figures hed be flipping houses right now, not sitting atop the leaderboard at the U.S. Open.
After all, the 46-year-old needed a lucky 13th trip to Q-school before getting his PGA Tour card. Before that he spent seven years driving his family around to mini-tour events, 30,000 miles a year by his estimate.
My journey, Brehaut said, is different than a lot of guys.
For sure, Brehaut took the long way to Bethpage Black.
So unlikely as it may seem, when Brehaut returns to the waterlogged course Friday morning, hell be tied for the lead, ahead of three reigning major championship winners ' one shot ahead of Angel Cabrera, two up on Tiger Woods, five better than Padraig Harrington.
OK, so hes only played 11 holes and the first round isnt even over yet, thanks to a daylong rain that turned Bethpage into Bathpage and prompted a suspension of play less than 3 1/2 hours into the tournament.
Assuming he sleeps at all Thursday night, Brehaut will wake up Friday with the lead in a major, sharing first place with fellow longer-than-long shots Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr and Ryan Spears.
Its a long way to go, said Brehaut, who is playing on the Nationwide Tour these days. Not that this isnt great.
No matter what happens Friday, Saturday, Sunday or whenever this tournament might end ' the forecast for the rest of the weekend is not good, and some people are just hoping for a Monday finish ' itll go down as a memorable trip for Brehaut.
In fact, a two-birdie, one-bogey, eight-par showing Thursday isnt even his highlight of the week. That came Wednesday, in a practice round.
He approached a green surrounded by a rabid gallery, virtually all craning their necks to see the next group, which just happened to include Bethpage favorites Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.
Safe to say, they werent there to see Brehaut. He gave them a show anyway.
Brehaut holed a shot from the sand, then tossed another ball into the same spot and did it again on the very next swing.
It was the funniest moment. I was jumping up and down like Bob Tway when he held on to beat Greg Norman, Brehaut said, referring to Tways chip-in to win the 1986 PGA Championship. I pumped my fist. I signed half an hour worth of autographs. Afterwards I told my wife I felt like I had just won the tournament. It was that funny.
He was laughing in the rain on Thursday as well.
Brehauts day started with a bogey, and for the next 10 holes he was flawless. His day began with a three-word pep talk from his wife ' Embrace your conditions, she said ' and thats exactly what he did.
He went off in the first group on the back side, lauding playing partner J.P. Hayes for starting with a birdie on the par-4 10th.
Wow, youre leading the Open, Brehaut marveled.
Little did he ' or anyone else ' know thats where hed be at days end.
Its an out-of-nowhere group out in front at Bethpage, even with the asterisk that the first round isnt anywhere near completed. Edfors is playing his ninth major; hes never made a cut in the previous eight. The rain was so bad that Spears mother didnt even go out on the course to watch Thursday morning. And Parr has a truly remarkable tale ' he suffered a stroke in 2007, endured some paralysis, and thought he might never play golf again.
Theyve all overcome much to get here. But at 46 and in a major for only the second time, Brehaut might have more of an appreciation of being on this rainslicked stage than anyone else.
I won Q-school once and that was pretty good, Brehaut said. I mean, Im not bad. But not everybodys a college All-American. A lot of us have to kind of be the guys that everyone beats up on. Thats fine.
For one day, anyway, Brehaut became the other guy.
Pretty cool, he said.
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.