Englishman Paul Broadhurst fired a nine-under par, 63 to take a two-shot lead over Brian Henninger heading into Saturday’s second round
Broadhurst admitted that his game has not been sharp of late, but a hot putter propelled him to his best round of the year
“It wasn’t expected. I can’t say I came into this with any great form,” said Broadhurts following his first round.
“I’ve been playing okay. Like I said, the putter’s been letting me down. I think the last couple of tournaments it got into my long game as well. So it’s been a bit of a struggle the last four, five tournaments. But there’s been signs, I’ve been hitting it all over the place and the game’s been there, but I just haven’t been putting it together, so it’s nice today that it all came together.”
The European grouping of Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, and Colin Montgomerie may have had the big galleries and captured the pre-tournament headlines, but they were all looking up at Broadhurst at the end of the first round.
“I’ve always been a step down the ladder from those guys,” said the Englishman. “Playing in Europe, those were always the guys to beat. Occasionally, I managed to do it, but not very often, so it’s nice to be ahead of them today.”
Local favorite Steve Stricker is a part of a trio at six under that also includess Champions Tour stalwarts Billy Andrade and Kenny Perry.
Stricker, who was in the featured group of Friday with Fred Couples and defending champion Kirk Triplett, fed off the hometown fans en route to his 66.
Although the round has him in prime position to make a run on the weekend, the Madison native lamented a few missed opportunities that could have put him even higher on leaderboard.
“It was a good round,” said Stricker. “I threw a couple opportunities away on the way in. I had maybe a six-footer at 15 that I didn’t convert on, and then three-putted No. 16 for par. So it could have been a shot maybe, maybe two better, but all in all, good start. No bogeys today, which I’m always proud of when I do something like that, so it was a good.”
Couples, who hasn’t competed in nearly seven weeks, shot a 67 in his first round back.
“I feel good, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” said Couples. “I’m not coming just to talk to Strick about the Presidents Cup. But I’ve been off since Houston, I don’t know, seven or eight weeks, and I just keep waiting for it to get better. I feel okay. Obviously rusty, but anyone would be rusty. But I’m excited to play and sometimes you play better when you’re more excited than if you’re playing every week.”
“For me personally, it’s just about the playing and the competition. At 57, I really still feel like I can win so I keep doing it. When there comes a time when I just come and I’m 25th and 30th, I’m not saying that’s bad, I just can’t do that. My body’s not strong enough anyway. So I want to compete and I want to play against the best players, so I’ve got hopefully two or three more years.”
Corey Pavin, Jeff Maggert, Steven Ames, and Kevin Sutherland are among those accompanying Couples four shots off the lead and five-under.
Stricker will accompany Henninger and Broadhurst in the final group on Saturday which is set to tee off at 10:40 AM (CT).
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