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Defendingchampion takes lead at Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Dustin Johnson closed with five birdies to tie the tournament record of 30 on the back nine and finish at 8-under 64 for Thursday's first-round lead at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The defending champion's round came on the Pebble Beach course. Charley Hoffman shot 64 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, the newcomer to a three-course rotation that opened to rave reviews.

"One of my favorites now on tour," Phil Mickelson said after a 68 there.

The best round might have been by David Duval, who played bogey-free until his final hole for 67 at Spyglass Hill, traditionally the toughest course. The average score at Spyglass was 71.52 compared with 70.89 at Pebble Beach and 69.97 at Monterey Peninsula.

So who's leading?

"No one," Duval said, laughing. "All the courses are so different. It's hard to tell until after the third day."

The players rotate courses with those making the cut playing Pebble Beach on Sunday.

J.B. Holmes finished eagle-birdie at Pebble Beach for 65. K.J. Choi also shot 65 there. The most famous of the three courses was the best place to be in the serene conditions.

"It's one of the best places you want to be when it's good weather," Johnson said. "It's so pretty, too. It's a fun place to be."

It's good to have length on the course, and Johnson had it.

He reached the green on the 573-yard No. 14, setting up a chip and putt to start his birdie run.

But it was a 7-iron on No. 18 that left Johnson most pleased.

Johnson had 169 yards to the hole, typically an 8-iron. But with the pin to the back right, he tried to protect against too much spin down the slope. Instead, Johnson hit what he called a "chip 7-iron" that settled about 6 feet away.

"One of the better swings," he said.

Defendingchampion takes lead at Pro-Am 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 9:02pm]
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