Brehm aces 17th hole to grab share of PGA Valspar lead
Ryan Brehm, who has missed 14 of 17 starts this season, scored on the 17th par-3 hole and tied for the lead after the first round of the PGA Valspar Championship on Thursday.
The 36-year-old American, whose only PGA title came last March at the Puerto Rico Open, equaled compatriot Adam Schenk and Germany’s Stefan Jaeger by five under par 66 at Innisbrook’s Copperhead in Palm Harbor, Florida.
“Since then, we’ve been working a bit to try and get back in good shape,” Brem said. “It shows signs of a good game, so we’re just going to keep doing it.”
Three-time major tournament winner Jordan Spieth, 2015 Valpsar winner, tied for fourth place after 67 ghost-free with fellow Americans Maverick McNeely and 2009 US Open winner Lucas Glover.
Brem hit the 196-yard par-3 hole 17 with an iron 7. It was his first PGA hole shot and first PGA ace in the hole since Chris Blanks in the 2012 final round.
“I was a little surprised when I saw him fall into the hole,” Brem said. “But we got a good response. It was a lot of fun.
“Actually I was just trying to cover the leading edge of the green and we had the wind blowing from the right. We had 189 to cover the leading edge and he probably flew almost 200 yards. So it was pretty fun to watch this thing leak.”
Brem hit all four par-5 holes and made his only scarecrow on the sixth par-4 hole.
“We took care of the par-5, which was nice,” Brem said. “There were several ups and downs and none of them went out of the game. It’s a recipe for just holding on.”
Jaeger, a contender for his first PGA title, opened with a birdie, had ghosts at par 4 and par 7, but then hit five of the next seven holes – four of them on a six-foot inside shot.
“I made some good shots, drove really well on the back nine, gave myself a lot of chances to hit the greens,” Jaeger said.
“These greens are pretty small, so if you hit them in the right spots, you’ll have a lot of short shots and you’ve just landed the right shots and par-5.”
Starter Schenk, playing 10 straight weeks and chasing his first PGA title, hit a 51-foot birdie putt 18th in a four-straight birdie streak that started at 17, other birdie putts dropped eight feet .
After taking his lone bogey on pair 4 on 3, he landed an 11-foot birdie putt on pair 7 on 4, a 10-foot pair on 8 and up and down the bunker on 9 to stay level for the lead. .
– Good luck, good golf –
“It’s just very well choreographed,” Schenk said. “Lucky with the last hole. I hit a bunker that hit a pin. I probably flew eight feet and ended up only four feet.”
Schenk, who played so much before becoming a father next month, finished third in his career at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open.
Spit, a nine-back starter, hit three birdies in a row starting on the 14th par-5 hole, which was marked by a birdie hit from just over 57 feet on the 15th par-3 hole. He also made a 31-foot bird kick in sixth.
“I was able to put in a couple of long putts today that pushed me to a 4-under, which is a really good round,” Spit said. “Playing 14 to 16 under 3 is a really good stretch of golf.”
American Sam Burns, who started at 69, is trying to become the first player to win the same PGA tournament three years in a row since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic.