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Fog hides brilliant play at Tour Championship

Rumor has it that a foursome went around the Olympic Club in 66 Thursday.

Word is that Steve Lowery, one of the four, had a hole-in-one; that Bill Glasson, another of the four, nearly spun a 9-iron shot into the cup at No. 18 for an eagle; and that David Frost needed just 24 putts and Mark McCumber shot 31 on the back nine.

We stress that these are only rumors, because no one actually saw the first round of the Tour Championship. A fog rolled in off the Pacific Ocean and wrapped itself around the premises like a huge, damp cotton ball. Players came and went, ghostlike apparitions in the cloud that never cleared, and by the time play concluded the only thing to go on was hearsay.

In the richest event on this or any other tour _ the purse is $3-million, with $540,000 to the winner _ a little thing like a fog isn't going to keep the top 30 money winners from their appointed rounds. And in one sense, the damp made things a little easier for the players. It softened and slowed the greens and made them more receptive to scoring.

The most receptive green was the eighth, the landing pad on the 137-yard, par-3 hole. It was there that Lowery lasered a 9-iron over the flagstick and listened to the roar of the crowd tell him what happened.

"I guess it flew close and spun by and hopped right in," said Lowery of his seventh career ace, his first on the PGA Tour.

Remarkable also was the putting performance put on by Frost. It wasn't that he was holing putts from all over Olympic's usually treacherous greens. His longest was from 15 feet and he even missed a 2-footer at the seventh hole. It was that he had just 11 putts on the front nine and 13 on the back.

With three rounds left, there will be more rumors and plenty of changes involving the mystery foursome atop the leaderboard. Rick Fehr cut through the foul weather with a 67. Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, the best young players in the world, were at 68. Greg Norman and Corey Pavin led a group of six players lurking at 69.

Things are bound to clear up.

In the meantime, the weather is a perfect metaphor for the proceedings. Nick Price (71) will need to pick up the pace if he is to keep his position atop the money list. Norman, who trails him by $186,020, can still catch him. Brad Bryant (72) is 30th on the money list, and if he wants a Masters invitation for finishing in the top 30, he will have to finish higher than Mark Brooks (69), who is 31st on the list.