Heart palpitations a distant memory for pace-setting Hayes

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MIAMI, Nov 2 (Reuters) Seven months after withdrawing from a tournament because of suspected heart palpitations, American J P Hayes surged into a healthy position atop a PGA Tour leaderboard.

Hayes, who has come to terms with having abnormally low blood pressure, grabbed a one-stroke lead in the Disney Classic first round after shooting a seven-under-par 65 at Lake Buena Vista yesterday.

''It's changed my appreciation for the quality of health, all that kind of stuff,'' the 42-year-old told reporters of his experience in the final round of the Tampa Bay Championship in March.

''I've always had a pretty good perspective on golf. At first, I was happy to be out here kind of stuff. Then it was like I've got to go play.'' Hayes pulled out of the Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida because of minor chest pains and dizziness.

He was taken to hospital and his condition was later diagnosed as vasovagal syncope, which causes low blood pressure.

''I'm simplifying it but my blood pressure will drop at a time where it should be picking up,'' the twice PGA Tour winner said.

''It was something that I had been searching for for several months and I spent a lot of time in hospitals doing tests.

Nobody had given me a good answer for why I felt that way.

''Finally I went to the Mayo Clinic, the best of the best, and they told me what it was. I've had instances since then of it but I know what it is and how to treat it.'' Hayes pays close attention to his fluid intake and ensures he consumes enough electrolytes and salt tablets.

The recipe seems to be working well and this week he is competing in his sixth consecutive PGA Tour event.

''I've seen times where I'm really optimistic about how I'm playing,'' said Hayes, who has not triumphed on the PGA Tour since the 2002 John Deere Classic. ''Now I'm in a great position to win another golf tournament.'' Reuters BJR VP0720

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