Harrison Frazar didn't know what to expect when he teed it up yesterday at the Buick Championship in Cromwell, Conn.
After what he has been through, it was a pleasant surprise.
It wasn't that long ago he found himself on the floor in a hospital bathroom just after the birth of his third son. It had been a traumatic one. The baby stopped breathing for a while and his heart rate dropped. When the baby was finally out of danger and his wife fell asleep, Frazar curled up on the floor for 45 minutes.
``I didn't want to move because it was finally -- everything was OK -- and it was over," Frazar said.
The father of three returned from a long layoff of handling family illnesses to grab a share of the first-round lead in the Buick Championship. He shot a season-best 5-under-par 65 to join Heath Slocum, Peter Lonard, and Scott Verplank atop the leaderboard.
``I have pictures of the kids hanging on the side of the bag. I looked at it a couple of times and it made me smile," Frazar said. ``But at the same time it makes me sad to know there is a 9-day-old baby at home that I'd love to see."
Frazar, seeking his first PGA Tour victory, hadn't played a competitive round since withdrawing after the first round in Memphis last month. The recent birth of his child and family health problems kept him close to home. In that time, he only played a few rounds with his father and some buddies.
``Haven't hardly hit more than a bucket of balls at a time, maybe total, in the five weeks," Frazar said. ``Just spent a lot of time with my family."
Former US Open champion Corey Pavin, Memorial winner Carl Pettersson, Darron Stiles, Camilo Villegas, Todd Fischer, and Ron Whittaker opened with 66s, and former Buick Championship winners Olin Browne and Brent Geiberger were in a 12-player group at 67.
Defending champ Brad Faxon struggled with six bogeys and finished with a 4-over 74.
Verplank has been bothered by a sore knee, but a cortisone shot and therapy has the four-time PGA Tour winner swinging better. Plus the 6,820-yard course has been a kind venue to those who aren't the biggest boomers on tour. Verplank is looking for his first win since 2001.
European -- John Bickerton shot an 8-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead over Michael Campbell in the first round of the French Open in Versailles. Sweden's Joakim Backstrom was third at 66, and seven players were at 4 under.
Champions -- Fred Funk, who turned 50 June 14, will make his Champions Tour debut next week in the US Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The seven-time PGA Tour winner, the tour's driving accuracy leader this season at 77.3 percent, also is scheduled to play the Ford Senior Players Championship the following week in Dearborn, Mich.