BROUSSARD, La. -- Brenden Pappas flopped down in a chair in the men's locker room at Le Triomphe Golf Club as dusk settled Thursday in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun Country.
|INSIDE THE NUMBERS|
Pappas, an affable South African, was at once tired and supercharged. He understood he was on the short end of a day-long adrenaline rush and he knew the importance of making every attempt to talk himself down from on high.
"Time to put my feet up, go have a little dinner, get over myself and try to get some sleep,'' he said, laughing.
Less than 45 minutes earlier, Pappas had come to his final hole in the first round of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open needing a birdie on the 465-yard, par 4 ninth to join an awfully short list of professional golfers who have shot 59 in competition. Pappas was forced to "settle'' for an 11-under-par 60 when his lob wedge second spun off a elephant's burial ground located on the green and came to rest some 60 feet away from the hole and the magic number.
"I threw up all over myself with that lob wedge on the last,'' he said. "I was shaking like a leaf in the fairway.''
Despite the admission Pappas was thrilled with the way he played. "I've never, ever, ever hit the ball that good,'' he said. Yet he also was a little wary of what kind of hand he would be dealt over the course of his next 18 holes by a game that can capricious and cruel.
"It's so terribly difficult to follow a great round with a good one,'' he said, spouting a golf adage that is true more often than not. "You're only as good as your next round. Tomorrow will be like trying to validate a skin.''
Well, there was no validation Friday, just some self-flagellation. Pappas' skin still is on the table, available for all comers. And that next round was a far cry from the previous one -- 14 strokes worse in fact. He laughed sardonically at the dichotomy between his 11-birdie 60 and a seven-bogey, four-birdie 74, the number he posted Friday that opened the door for leader Skip Kendall to flit through with his second consecutive bogey-free 66 and establish the 36-hole lead at 10-under 132.
"Yesterday I was counting my bad shots on one hand,'' said Pappas, who spit up the four-shot cushion he owned after 18 holes and is tied for second with Nationwide Tour rookie Aaron Watkins and veteran Tom Byrum, two shots behind Kendall. "Today I'm counting the good ones on the same hand.''
There was a long, thoughtful pause before Pappas broke the silence by breaking into a little song, a cappella. "What a difference a day makes . . .''
Pappas's troubles -- and they were considerable when you take into account he "laid the sod over it five times'' on the back nine Friday -- were more physical than mental. He said he came down with "a bit of a bug'' after dinner Thursday.
Pappas wasn't aware at the time, but he mistook his feeling of lightheadedness during the final holes Thursday. "I thought it was euphoria,'' he said.
But there was nothing euphoric about the way he felt Thursday night. He locked himself in his bedroom without telling his brother Deane and Deane's caddy Ron Bennett, who are traveling together in Brenden Pappas' motor home, good night. Pappas woke up at 1 a.m., drenched in sweat and was running a fever.
"I knew that wasn't a good thing,'' he said.
Seems Bennett came down with the bug Monday and likely passed it on to his boss's brother.
"He couldn't string a sentence together on Tuesday,'' Brenden Pappas said. "But he was fine in less than two days. So I'm going to get a shot of B-12 and hope it works some magic.''
Pappas was still running a fever on the golf course Friday. His head was congested and he was coughing enough to become distracted. His game plan was to get it the house at even or one under for the round. Pappas was on target at one under through 13 holes. But then he lost the crystal-clear focus that came so easily the day before. Then his body gave way.
"My legs just disappeared,'' he said. "Four bogeys later I let everyone back into the tournament.''
That said, Pappas refused to offer excuses for Friday's result.
"I'm a pragmatist,'' he said. "You have to play your best regardless of the situation. But you can't account for the physical part.
"I'm not going to tell you I'm feeling great. Throwing away a four-shot lead is not something you want to do. But fortunately I feel like I working on the right things for my game and I'm a better chaser than I am a leader, so . . .''
"Remember, it's all about the next round,'' he said as he went off to search for medical treatment.