Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Mahan takes advantage of no rain

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Hunter Mahan was bracing for the worst of Pebble Beach, his golf bag weighed down with rain gear and everything else he needed to handle nasty weather.

Instead, he was reminded how much he loves the place.

It helps that Mahan drilled a 3-wood onto the 18th green for a two-putt birdie that gave him 6-under 66 and a share of the first-round lead to par with Russell Knox in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday.

Better yet, the rain everyone was expecting early in the afternoon never showed up. So when Mahan was asked about the most interesting part of the day, all he could think of was that it was boring, in a good way. "I had a good time with my partner (Tom Dundon, president and CEO of Santander Consumer Finance). The pace was great. The weather was good," he said. "We were all expecting rain. The bag probably weighs 100 pounds right now."

Mahan attacked Pebble Beach, the place to be when conditions are calm. He missed only two greens and had only one birdie attempt longer than 20 feet.

It was a good start, but nothing more. With three very different courses in the rotation, weather than can change without notice and one course with a different par, no one has a good idea where he stands until after the third round Saturday.

Knox had 6-under 64 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. He finished out of the top 125 on the money list last year as a rookie, so his opportunities are limited this year. "I came in here with a lot of confidence because I feel like I've been playing very well," Knox said. "Just haven't had the chance to play."

Mahan and Knox had a one-stroke lead over a group of five that included Tampa resident Ryuji Imada, who also played at Monterey Peninsula.

Vijay Singh had 72 at Pebble Beach. The tour has not decided whether to suspend him for using deer-antler spray, which contains a growth hormone on its list of banned substances.

Phil Mickelson, going after a record-tying fifth win in this tournament after last week's wire-to-wire win at the Phoenix Open, opened with 69 at Monterey Peninsula.

In the pro-am portion of the tournament, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the first of two female members at Augusta National, beaned a spectator on No. 6 at Pebble Beach. She combined with partner Jason Bohn for 2-under 70.

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