For the Brehms, new Copperhead memories filled to the brim
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Ryan Brehm makes ace, shares Round 1 lead at Valspar
Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Ryan Brehm readily will admit that Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course doesn’t exactly fit him like a cushy recliner. It confounds him. It confuses him. It can frustrate him.
Thursday, at least, the Copperhead gifted him. It gave him and his wife, Chelsey, his caddie this week, a lasting memory to take home with them. For one, Brehm’s 5-under 66 paced the field on Day 1 alongside Stephan Jaeger and Adam Schenk. So there's that. But the more meaningful piece was how Brehm got there.
He was 3-under when he stepped to the tee at the 17th hole, having birdied all four par-5 holes. At 17, he just wanted to hit something that covered 189 yards to reach the front of the green. The ball took off on a great line, pitched, and Brehm watched his ball tumble into the hole.
Ryan Brehm makes 196-yard ace on No. 17 at Valspar
It was the 12th hole-in-one in the history of the Valspar Championship, the fourth at the 17th, and the first one there since Kris Blanks made a 1 more than a decade ago, in 2011. (Copperhead’s par-3 fourth never has yielded an ace.) Brehm used a 7-iron.
“It landed almost at the hole and went in,” said Brehm, who thought the tee shot had probably traveled a little too far, only to see it hit softly, then vanish. “It kind of surprised me a little.”
It was Brehm’s first hole-in-one as a member of the TOUR, and he said he was glad his wife was there to witness it. (“We talk about all the time,” he said. “She’s like, ‘I’ve never seen you have one.’”
Now she has seen two, sort of, in a span of four days. Earlier this week, Brehm was playing in a Monday pro-am at Valspar when he stepped to the tee at the par-3 13th hole and deposited his tee shot into a small pond that fronts the hole.
He teed up a second ball and switched clubs, choosing 7-iron after he had rinsed his ball with a 6-iron, and knocked the shot into the hole from 190 yards. (It was the type of hard-earned 3 that would make Fred Couples of PLAYERS fame rather proud.)
Brehm said, by best guess, he has five aces in his golf career (he is “99 percent” sure), but he hadn’t made one recreationally in 15 years. “It was pretty fun to see that thing trickle in,” he said.
A year ago, Brehm was on fumes when he arrived at Valspar. Two weeks earlier, with Chelsey on his bag, Brehm collected the first PGA TOUR victory of his career, capturing the Puerto Rico Open. (At the time, he jokingly said Chelsey’s caddie cut – 51% of his $666,000 winner’s share – had to be some sort of TOUR record.)
Brehm’s victory got him an 11th-hour spot into THE PLAYERS, and the following week was Valspar, where he did well just to make the cut and play into the weekend.
So, Brehm was asked after Thursday’s 66, does he feel this course fits his eye?
“No. I’m not comfortable out there at all, but I don’t think anybody is,” he said. “Maybe Sam Burns. He’s won it a couple of times.”