Originally created 05/26/01

Hughes ties course record



POTOMAC, Md. -- Rain, thunder, even darkness didn't stop the sunglasses-wearing Bradley Hughes from tying the course record at the Kemper Insurance Open.

Finishing his round after a 2-hour, 40-minute delay because of a thunderstorm, Hughes shot an 8-under-par 63 Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Lee Porter and Frank Lickliter II.

Hughes, Porter and Lickliter are all looking for their first PGA Tour victory, which would extend the Kemper's reputation for producing first-time winners.

Phil Mickelson was among six players two shots off the lead, and Justin Leonard was among seven more who were three back. Brent Schwarzrock, at 7 under, was the top golfer among those who hadn't finished their rounds when played was suspended for the day at 8:07 p.m.

Hughes, who has five international victories in his native Australia, had a 31 at the turn and birdied his next hole before the thunder stopped play at 3:05 p.m. Despite playing before a tiny gallery consisting mainly of his wife's relatives, he came back to get four more birdies.

"I was hot on the first 10 holes," Bradley said, "and the rain delay could've stole that."

Bradley finished just before play was called and could barely read the greens because of the dark sunglasses he always wears. He said his eyes couldn't adjust to taking them off.

"I'm so used to wearing them," he said. "I've worn sunglasses playing for seven, eight years."

Porter, like Hughes, had not long made the turn when the siren halted play for the storm. Porter's out-of-contention partners, Chris Perry and Mark McCumber, both dropped out during the delay, so Porter borrowed Rick Fehr from an adjacent threesome to finish the round in near quiet.

Though he was leading the tournament at the time, Porter had a gallery of four fans at No. 4. Parties from nearby houses were easily audible on the course. He didn't seem affected, parring all eight holes he played after the delay in his round of 68.

"It was eerie out there," Porter said, "especially as dark as it was getting. It was like playing a late round in Scotland."

Mickelson was finished well before the storms hit with his 4-under 67, his second straight round in which he mixed brilliant shots with inconsistent putting. By his own admission, he should be running away with the tournament.

"I feel as though I've lost four to six shots per round when I should have been able to separate myself from the field," said Mickelson, who is looking for a win to go with five top-three finishes in his last seven events. "I feel like the last few tournaments I should not have let anybody even have a chance to catch me. Not just on Sunday, throughout the week.

"I am not scoring the way I am playing, and that's frustrating," he said.

Another first-time hopeful, Jeff Julian, also finished before the rain and added to the tournament's legacy of giving little-knowns their 15 minutes or more of fame. Julian, who boasts that he is the only tour player living in Vermont, was cruising with six birdies and no bogeys before a calamity at the par-3 17th.

Julian's tee shot bounced on the cart path and got stuck in the banner on the roof of a tent on the left side of the green. A fan inside the tent took off his shoes and starting throwing them at the ceiling to help get the ball down.

"All of sudden the ball came rolling off the roof, hit the cart path, went down by the green," Julian said.

Julian, who has made just one of the nine cuts this year for earnings of $7,264.40, made a bogey and parred the 18th for a 66.

"For me to be in the weekend is something," Julian said. "This is quite a jump."

For the second straight day, the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairway because of soggy conditions, eliminating bad lies.