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PEBBLE BEACH EASES GRIP ON GOLFERS

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Pebble Beach proved less formidable on the final day of 1992 than it was in mid-June for the U.S. Open.

Nine players finished below par Thursday in the first round of the $250,000 Pebble Beach Invitational.Marks Brooks, Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf, Bruce Fleisher and Chuck Milne were tied for the lead in the unique tournament at 4-under-par 68. Rick Fehr and Mark Wiebe were one shot back. Seven other amateurs and pros were two strokes behind at 70.

The tournament is being played on three Monterey Peninsula courses: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills. It features players from the PGA Tour, Senior PGA Tour and LPGA tour competing for the top prize of $50,000.

Brooks, Lehman, Waldorf and Milne played the Pebble Beach course, while Fleisher toured Spyglass.

Spyglass surrendered only two sub-par rounds, while Poppy Hills permitted 12.

"I've always played this course well," said Brooks, who finished 21st on the PGA Tour's money list. "It played easy today, but it can be the meanest course in the world."

Brooks hit 17 fairways and 17 greens in regulation. He had three birdies on the back nine holes, with the longest putt traveling eight feet. He missed only the 11th green and the 14th fairway.

Lehman, who began his round at No. 10, had three birdies to start his second nine holes.

Waldorf also began his round on the back, but he had three birdies on each nine holes. His longest birdie putt, at No. 9, covered 30 feet.

"It was one of the easier days I've played out here," he said. "It was pretty warm and there was no wind until the last few holes."

When Tom Kite won the 1992 U.S. Open, he conquered the course at its wind-swept worse. No such problems existed on an overcast Thursday.

At Spyglass, Fleisher started on the back nine and opened with three consecutive birdies. He birdied three of the first four holes on his second nine holes.

Milne, a non-touring professional from Vancouver, shot a 5-under 31 on the front nine. He had three consecutive birdies starting at No. 5.

Juli Inkster and Cindy Rarick are the top LPGA tour players in the field. Both shot 70s on the Poppy Hills course.

Inkster is the only LPGA player to win the tournament. She won the event two years ago, edging Brooks.

George Archer came in at 71 on the Poppy Hills course, besting the five other Senior PGA Tours players entered.