PALM HARBOR — Ryan Brehm is just happy his wife finally got to witness it. Thursday, Brehm hit a hole-in-one on the 17th hole of the Valspar Championship to move into a tie for first place at 5 under par.
Brehm, 36, said it had been 15 years since he’d aced a hole — and just a few days since he had one rim out of the cup.
“My wife and I talk about it all the time. I’m glad she was there because she’s like, ‘I’ve never seen you have one,’ " Brehm said after his round of 66 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. “And ironically, in the Monday pro-am, I rimmed one on 13 for my first shot, grabbed a different club, teed it up, and jarred it for a par.”
Brehm was trying to hit the front of the green on the 215-yard, par-3 17th hole.
“It kind of surprised me when I saw it go in the hole, honestly,” Brehm said. “But we got a good reaction. It was a lot of fun. I was really just trying to cover the front edge of the green, and we had the wind that was down off of the right. I think we had 189 to cover the front edge and it probably flew almost 200 yards.
“So it was pretty fun to see that thing trickle in.”
It was the 12th hole-in-one in Valspar Championship history and the first since Jason Kokrak’s on the 15th hole in the third round of the 2019 tournament. It was the fourth time it has happened on the 17th hole.
This is Brehm’s third time playing the Valspar. He came into the clubhouse tied with Stephan Jaeger and Adam Schenk for the lead.
None of that actually makes him any more comfortable with the course.
“I’m not comfortable out there at all, but I don’t think anybody really is. Maybe Sam Burns. He’s won it a couple times. But I think it’s a good test of golf,” Brehm said of the Copperhead Course. “Golf’s not supposed to be easy, I don’t think, and the course does a good job of making you think.”
Brehm, who has one PGA Tour win, feels like this may be the test he needs to put him back on the track to when he won the Puerto Rico Open last year. Thursday he felt he handled the challenge well.
“I took care of the par-5s. That’s obviously a goal of mine every time I play, but it seems harder to do than on paper. So we took care of the par-5s and that was nice,” he said. “... My lag putting was good enough to get the balls down in two, I had a few up-and-downs and never hit one out of play. So I think that’s kind of a recipe to just hang in there.”
Ronde Barber honored
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Scattered among the onlookers in their golf attire Thursday were several fans wearing Bucs shirts and hats to honor Ronde Barber, the soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer. Barber is a member of the Copperheads, the charity group that runs the tournament.
“When I retired from football, I was doing broadcasting; I wasn’t expecting to do this. I got involved because they asked me to be on the board and over the next eight years, feeling what it takes to put on a professional golf event really excited me and made me want to be part of it,” Barber said. “I’m proud of the fact that we’re going to hit the $50 million mark in charity this year and being a part of this community.”
Thursday night, the PGA, Valspar, Innisbrook Resort and the Bucs honored Barber for his Hall of Fame election with an intimate ceremony in front of about 200 fans. Warren Sapp, Martin Gramatica and other former teammates were on hand while others, like John Lynch and coach Tony Dungy, sent video messages. Barber was presented with a blue Innisbrook blazer and a bronze putter. Sapp and his daughter spoke about how important he was to them.
“I appreciate this and I appreciate you,” Barber told the fans that stayed after dark to celebrate with him.