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International team leads Chrysler Cup

For most of its existence, the Chrysler Cup has turned out to be little more than an exhibition among 16 Senior PGA Tour players divided into two teams, with neighborhood bullies on one side and bookworms on the other.

Americans have owned this event, winning seven out of eight times, including six in a row.

The foreign contingent has had enough.

International team members raced to a 12-shot lead Friday after the first round of the 54-hole tournament at the TPC of Prestancia.

Led by Australian Bruce Devlin's 7-under-par 65, the International team was 25 under par. New Zealand's Bob Charles shot 66, followed by South Africa's Simon Hobday, who had 67.

"Who likes to be losing six years in a row?" Hobday said. "It's time. The law of averages is on our side, isn't it? Last year it was close. It hasn't been a mile away. Hopefully, they're tired of winning. You can only push a guy so much before you stop.

"We want to win badly. That's a motivation. It would be good for the tournament if we win a couple of these in a row."

The match between the eight-man teams is based on the top five scores per team each day. The team with the lowest cumulative score through 54 holes wins the Chrysler Cup. All 16 players also compete in 54-hole stroke play competition that coincides with the team tournament.

Joining the scores of Devlin, Charles and Hobday for the International team were a 68 from England's Tommy Horton and a 69 from Australia's Graham Marsh. Bruce Crampton (72), Gary Player (73) and Harold Henning (78) are the other International players.

Player, who has competed in every Chrysler Cup, was especially happy to see his team in front for a change. "We need a very big lead," he said. "The bigger, the better. That made it exciting today. It's terrific. I'd really like to see it come down to the end. This format is really a marvelous idea."

The best U.S. score was posted by George Archer, who had 68. Senior PGA Tour Player of the Year Dave Stockton was next with 69, followed by four players at 70: Mike Hill, who won last weekend's senior event in Naples; Jim Colbert; Al Geiberger and Miller Barber. Defending individual champion Tom Weiskopf had 71 and Chi Chi Rodriguez had 72. Taking the top five scores, the United States team was 13 under par.

"They've got a good team," Archer said. "And when you take five scores out of eight, I think it's going to be real close."

For Devlin, the round was especially sweet. He never has won a Senior PGA Tour event, and he has battled injuries and ailments for several years. The winner of eight PGA Tour events (including the 1964 St. Petersburg Open) and once a golf commentator on NBC and ESPN, Devlin spends a good bit of his time designing golf courses.

Trouble was, lately, he just couldn't play them.

"If you looked at the race form, you'd understand how good I feel," said Devlin, 56, who had an eagle, six birdies and only one bogey. He birdied the last three holes to take the individual lead. "My scores have been pretty paltry here. I'm glad I could finally help the team. These rounds have been so few and far between.

"I've had a terrible time with my game. If I had been busier in my architecture business, I'd have quit."

The tournament resumes at 11:30 a.m. today.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.