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Home Sweet Home

Dorothy Gale said, 'There's no place like home.' No one agrees with that statement more than Emlyn Aubrey. Born in Reading, Penn., Aubrey fired a season-best 65 to share the first-round lead at the SEI Pennsylvania Classic.
At 6-under-par, Aubrey is tied with fellow journeyman Danny Briggs in Paoli, Penn. Loren Roberts and Frank Lickliter are two shots off the lead at 4-under-par.
It's been a disappointing year, thus far, for Aubrey. The 39-year-old missed 13 of his first 15 cuts. Recouping from a back injury, which forced him to miss the end of the '99 season, Aubrey is playing on a special medical exemption in 2000.
But things are finally starting to go Aubrey's way. The three-time Pennsylvania Public-Links State champion has qualified for weekend play in four of his last five starts, including three in a row.
'The last two tournament in Canada, I made birdies on the last hole on Friday to make the cut,' said Aubrey, currently 194th on the money list. 'Hopefully, things are turning around.'
After using a 15-foot par save at the 1st as a 'wake-up call,' Aubrey birdied four of his next seven holes to make the turn in 4-under-par 31. Aubrey only carded one birdie over his first eight holes on the back nine, but the 8-year PGA Tour veteran coaxed in a birdie 4 at the home hole for just his seventh round in the 60s this year.
So what was the difference for Aubrey on Thursday? Better driving? Better iron play? Better putting? Well, Aubrey missed only three fairways and three greens in regulation in the first round, and he took only 27 swipes with the flatstick. But the biggest determining factor was an intangible one.
'I love this place,' Aubrey said of his native Pennsylvania. 'I've obviously come back to visit my parents. Spent some time in Harrisburg a lot. For me, it brings back old memories for sure. We spent a lot of time going to sports in Philly, just great - eat some cheese steaks. It is great coming back, but it is really special to play a tournament here.'
There's no home-course advantage this week for Briggs. The 39-year-old was born in Texas and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Still, Briggs seems to feel right at home at the Waynesborough Country Club.
Beginning on the back nine, Briggs was 1-under as he made the turn. But the front nine proved to be more fruitful. Briggs drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-4 1st to move to 2-under, and then chipped in for a birdie 2 at the 2nd.
After a par at the 3rd, Briggs again carded back-to-back birdies at the 4th and 5th to climb to 5-under. The former Texas A&M Aggie ended his Thursday scoring by nearly holing his second shot at the par-4 8th.
'Eight was kind of neat,' said Briggs, who, like Aubrey, earned a special medical exemption to play on the 2000 Tour. 'My divot (on my approach shot) was like this close (indicating five inches) and my ball was like this close (indicating two inches); so that was nice.'
In recent years, Briggs has bounced back and forth between the PGA and Buy.Com Tours. In fact, with his wife expecting twins in the early 90's, Briggs quit the game to take a television gig with a Hall of Fame baseball player.
'I did a television show with Johnny Bench called `Golf in Paradise,'' said Briggs. 'It was a show that you went around to all of these different resorts, and you would have two different guest celebrities, and I was the pro that was doing the tips.
'I had an opportunity to go work for a gentleman that paid me a decent amount of money so that I could feed my family and cover the bills at home, and I had an opportunity to do that. I really enjoyed doing it.'
Of course, the competitive fire still burned. And nowadays, there's plenty of 'green' to go around.
'It's a dream,' Briggs said. 'And, look at how much money we're playing for out here now, too. I mean, thank you, Tiger Woods for being out here. It's been fantastic.'
The game's biggest names aren't in attendance this week, but those who are, are making their presence felt.
Roberts is tied for third. Carlos Franco, Mark Calcavecchia and Dudley Hart are all in a nine-way tie for fifth at 3-under. And Grant Waite, who has finished runner-up in each of his last two starts, is tied for 14th at 2-under.
Aubrey and Briggs have yet to make a name for themselves in their extensive careers, but things could change this week.
'I'm not one of the PGA Tour stars,' said Briggs. 'It would be fun after this week to kind of become one for a week, I guess. But there's three days left for that.
'All I know is my kids and my wife still love me, so I'm okay.'