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June 18, 2009

Jeff Brehaut


BETH MURRISON: Good afternoon. Here we are at the media center at the 2009 U.S. Open. We're very thankful to have Jeff Brehaut join us this afternoon. He's gracious to come over after a long day of waiting. Jeff finished 11 holes this morning. 1 under par. Could you talk about the conditions this morning and your round through 11 holes.
JEFF BREHAUT: Pretty wet right from the get-go. Rained a little bit on the range and when we teed off it started. As we were walking off the 10th hole, my first hole, we all said, well, this is perfect timing for the rain just as we were teeing off.
It played even longer than the practice rounds. Although, they put the tee up on the 10th hole, which all three of us who I was playing with, we all said, wow, this is nice, they're giving us a break on the holes we really needed. The forward tees were back. So we played really long. I got a couple of good breaks when I drove it in the rough where I could get a lie that I could handle.
I hit a 5-wood into 11. I hit a 5-wood into 12. I hit a 3-wood into 16. I hit a 5-wood into 13, the par-5 for my third shot. I was hitting some long clubs. (Laughter).
But I got a couple of balls up-and-down when I needed to. I made two birdies, which was great. And found myself at the top of the leaderboard and seeing what Tiger goes through every day.
BETH MURRISON: Can you describe, you started on No. 10 and bogeyed there could you describe the bogey and also the two birdies you had.
JEFF BREHAUT: I hit a bad tee shot on the 10th hole into the left bunker, no play except a wedge on the fairway and wedge on the green. It was probably what you would call standard U.S. Open bogey.
So it was nice to settle down and get a good up-and-down for par on 11 and another nice par on 12 and then I kind of settled in a little bit.
BETH MURRISON: The two birdies.
JEFF BREHAUT: So the 13th hole, the par-5, they were playing that at the 605-yard tee. And I drove it in the rough and I had to kind of chip a 4-iron up the fairway and the best I could do was hit it where I could handle the 5-wood and I hit a good shot in there about 10 feet and made that, and then I hit a 4-iron on the 17th hole, par-3 about eight feet and made that.

Q. You waited so long to play in a major and obviously did pretty well at Oakmont, but now are you getting the full flavor of how difficult it can be.
JEFF BREHAUT: Well, this is a bit overwhelming. But, yeah, it was a long time. I just turned 46 and Oakmont was my first major, my first U.S. Open, and I tried many times. And so Ron's from San Francisco, so we've known each other for a while.
So it was a big deal. And so this time to get a second crack at it, after playing pretty well at Oakmont, I was hopeful that I could do well, yeah.
And so to be here right now is pretty cool.

Q. You know AT&T Crosby weather and they've had some terrible storms down there. I was just wondering, you played in anything like this? And do you reach a point where you just say, "Why are we doing this?"
JEFF BREHAUT: Yeah. I played rounds at Pebble Beach in the AT&T exactly like this. Colder, though.
But it was okay, really. Through the first 10 holes, it was wet, but the course was holding up pretty well. But when we got to the second green, you know, my 11th hole, we all looked at each other and said, it can't handle it anymore. They were squeegeeing it off and it was coming straight back up. JP Hayes had a 45-footer. They squeegeed it away and he putted it and it rooster-tailed up and left the putt 15 feet short.
At that point it just couldn't take any more water. So it happened very quickly where the course was playable and then all of a sudden it wasn't.

Q. The 18th hole has been singled out that's one troubled with the water. Could you walk us through what you did there?

Q. 18.
JEFF BREHAUT: It was okay from the wetness standpoint, when I was playing it. I drove it, hit a 3-wood off the tee into the right rough. I had an okay lie, but it was one of these lies where it probably called for a 5-iron but I didn't think I could get enough hit on a 5-iron. I was telling my caddie, don't laugh at me but I'm going to take out my 3-rescue and I'm going to choke it down and play a big slice and chop at it and hit a great shot. It had a big old carve up there and it went 25 feet behind the whole 2-put for par. It was one of those shots you had to make up.
And I think you have to do that here at a course like this where it's not typical golf, especially on a day as wet as it is today and windy and all the elements.

Q. I know this probably isn't exactly the way in your dreams but you'll be going to sleep tonight with the U.S. Open lead. Could you talk about that?
JEFF BREHAUT: I guess that's what we're supposed to be striving for. I told JP Hayes after he made birdie on the 10th hole, I said, wow, you're leading the Open. So now I'm here. It's a long way to go. But not that this isn't great.

Q. I get the sense we're going to hear a lot of golfers complain about the weather and the conditions. You yourself, though, seem like you're having a great time out there. Is that accurate, considering what you've been through?
JEFF BREHAUT: Yeah, obviously we'd all love to be playing in 80 degrees and sunny. But my wife's been telling me the last three days, embrace your conditions, embrace your conditions. So that was the first words out of her mouth today when she saw me.
But everybody's got to play it. It's not what any of us wants to deal with the weather. But they're still going to give out a trophy, I think. (Laughter).

Q. Can you talk about the clubs you were playing into the various holes. Could you give us the differential between what you played today and what you might have played on those holes in the practice round?
JEFF BREHAUT: 12, I was hitting 3-iron instead of 5-wood or 3-wood and 11 was a 5-iron instead of a 5-wood. 16 was probably a 3-iron instead of a 3-wood. It was a combination of wind, just the rain kind of -- the whole thing. All the rain gear you have to wear. The ball just wasn't going very far.
You were just trying to get it in the short grass so you could get another one up there on or around the green.

Q. I'm reading between the lines; you were into the wind on 11, 16?
JEFF BREHAUT: Yes. 16 and 11 were both one fashion into the wind. 16 was more out of the right, and 11 was more straight in.

Q. And one other question, could you talk a bit about the speed of the greens given the water and how the water affected your putting?
JEFF BREHAUT: That's a good point. Monday and Tuesday I thought the greens were medium speed. I was thinking because it's like Ron was talking about Oakmont, when we played Oakmont, the greens were ridiculously fast. And even when you hit two good shots and you got it on the green you said, wow, how am I going to 2-putt this?
This course, it's extremely hard to get two shots onto the green. But you feel like once you get on the green, they're tame enough where I should be able to handle two-putting. Yesterday they picked up about a foot and a half in speed. Almost any pro I think would tell you that. Today they were surprisingly faster, how much water they had on there. Even after it had rained for an hour and a half they were quicker than they were on Monday and Tuesday today. So I think the greens -- they're in beautiful shape.

Q. For the sake of optimism, let's assume they find a chance to play here in the next couple days. Given how wet it's become, how does that change sort of who can win this thing? Conventional logic obviously is that it makes length even more important, what do you think?
JEFF BREHAUT: Yeah, who wouldn't love to hit it 300 yards in the air. But it doesn't matter if you're not playing from the fairway most of the time. And then it really gets down to kind of dealing with the elements, hanging in there, getting this shot up-and-down. Making this critical putt, not hitting a shot that goes into the knee-high grass.
It's all these little things that add up to a guy that just hung around, hung around, took advantage of a couple good shots and shot one or two under or one or two over instead of four or five over. Which is simple to do on this golf course. You can get on a bogey run easy and find yourself four or five over before you even know it. It's all those things. You just have to have some luck going your way, have to hit good shots at timely times and all that stuff.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about your background, your ups and downs in your careers; you said you waited a long time to get to a major and how tough or easy it's been, what it's been like for you?
JEFF BREHAUT: Sure. I kind of tell people not everybody is a college all-American and gets on the TOUR their first or second crack. And I'm probably living proof of that.
I went to Q school 13 times before I thought I got through when I was 35. I played mini tour golf for the first four, five, six years. I played the Nike tour then, now the Nationwide tour for six straight years in the '90s.
It was one of those things where I was in the top 50 every year and got invited to play in the TOUR championship every year, but people said, "congratulations," on six consecutive Nike tour championships, and I felt like it was kind of a half compliment, half not, because I wasn't good enough to get out of here and I was good enough to be in that tournament.
When I finally got on TOUR, it was a big deal. So it was one of the things where I kept getting a little better, a little better every year. I told people I wish I would have got better or worse faster. So I could have made up my mind. But I kept getting a little better.
And I wanted to play the PGA TOUR. It was my dream since I was a kid. And I found a way to make it happen. And so I was lucky enough to be able to play out there for eight years. This year and last year I've taken a step backward on the Nationwide tour, and I'm trying to get back.
It's been fun this week because I haven't seen a lot of my friends that I played eight years on the TOUR with, and a year and a half, and it's been -- I told Brian inside, "I miss it out here, I miss you guys." We had a lot of good friends that I haven't seen in a while.
So this week has been fun for me.

Q. What was your plan B?
JEFF BREHAUT: (Laughter) I'm still working on that. I get asked that a lot, "What are you going to do when you quit golf?" I said, "Who said anything about quitting?" I don't know. I don't know. I'll tell you what, I love to putz around my house and my wife and I often talked if we weren't doing this we'd flip houses, because I love to put my tool belt on.
I gotta tell them about yesterday. Yesterday I was playing, I played the front -- the backside first and then I played the front side by myself and I get to the 9th hole and I hit two lousy iron shots into the front bunker. I get up there and I think Phil Mickelson is a group or two behind me.
All these people are waiting on Phil and Jim Furyk to get there. So it was very crowded, I hit my first bunker shot, hit a nice shot and it went and trickled in right in the hole and this place went nuts. I laughed and I threw another ball down because I was practicing and I hit the same shot and it went in again.
And it was the funniest moment. I was jumping up-and-down like Bob Tway when he held on to beat Greg Norman. I pumped my fist, I signed half an hour worth of autographs. Afterwards I told my wife I felt like I had just won the tournament. It was that funny. I think if you talked to anybody that was there they would have probably said the same thing. It was hilarious. So that was my highlight so far.
BETH MURRISON: That's excellent. We hope there's many more to come this week. We appreciate it.

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