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Mike Reid misses the way golf used to be before he hurt his wrist playing ping-pong: bland, consistent, lucrative.

Instead, he's been getting thrills, chills and, since he hasn't won very much money, bills."It used to be pleasantly boring," said Reid, who makes his home in Provo. "I'd kill for one of those boring rounds these days."

It didn't happen Thursday during the first round of the Buick Classic, which ended with Reid ahead by a stroke after a bogey-free 6-under-par 65 at the Westchester Country Club.

There was the curious eagle on Reid's final hole, for example. He hit a driver off the tee of the 505-yard par-5 ninth hole and what he called a "lucky" driver from the fairway that slammed into the hill leading to the green before the ball dribbled up to the cup.

He made the 10-foot putt - the 20th of Reid's round.

"Twenty putts. Jeepers," the soft-spoken Reid said afterward. "I don't think I ever putted better in my life than I putted today, and that's the sole reason for the score that I shot."

Reid, 39, said he has learned to stop expecting the steadiness that was once the hallmark of his 18-year career. He has won nearly $3 million in PGA earnings, though only $60,000 since he hurt his wrist in November 1992.

"That's the way my rounds have been lately: There's nothing predictable about them," he said. "Every one is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I don't know what I'm going to get off and what I'm going to see."

Reid hurt himself while playing ping-pong with his former caddie Chuck Mohr in Japan.

"I was wearing street shoes on a wooden floor, which isn't too smart," he said. "I fell down on my paddle hand, my right hand, and sort of jammed my wrist."

Originally thought to be a chip fracture to the wrist, it took doctors months to determine that Reid had actually injured his tendon. Finally, after attempting three times to return to the tour in 1993, Reid was operated on last August in Salt Lake City and the tendon was reattached to his wrist.

The wrist no longer even needs to be iced down, he said. But scraping the rust off his game has been a struggle. So far this year, he has missed five of 12 cuts and, with his best finish a tie for 20th at the LA Open, he has made just $53,722.

"I've been making improvement, but I haven't really been competitive in any tournament yet," he said. "It's been like trying to put a puzzle together, and each week another piece fits in place. I just didn't know how big the puzzle was."

Another Provo resident, Steve Brodie, joined Dillard Pruitt, Steve Pate, Bob Estes and Wayne Levi in shooting a 66 to trail Reid by one shot. David Frost was alone two strokes back with a 67.

Fred Couples, in his first tournament in three months since throwing his back out, shot a 70. Defending champion Vijay Singh walked off the course on the 13th hole with a sore back.

The $1.2 million tournament concludes Sunday with the winner getting $216,000.