Pebble Beach, Calif. — Kim Welch shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday at Pebble Beach to take a one-stroke lead over four men after the first round of the Pebble Beach Invitational.
The long-hitting Welch played the Symetra Tour this season after two years on the LPGA Tour. Juli Inkster is the only woman to win the event, accomplishing the feat in 1990.
“I hope to be the second female winner,” said Welch, who had seven birdies and two bogeys.
The female and Champions Tour players receive distance advantages from tees.
“We were so lucky that we were the first ones out,” said Welch, one of nine women in the pro field of 81. “There was really just a breath of wind this morning. If we played the back nine last, the wind would have been something.”
Marc Turnesa, a one-time PGA Tour winner, and Champions Tour players Joe Durant and Kevin Sutherland had 68s at Spyglass Hill. Michael Schoolcraft, a 2014 Oklahoma graduate and a current mini-tour player, had a 68 at Spanish Bay.
Mark Brooks, a three-time winner of the 44-year-old event, had a 69 at Pebble Beach, as did Max Homa of the Web.com Tour, Jeff Sluman of the Champions Tour and Arron Oberholser, the former PGA Tour player who won the 1996 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Paul Goydos of the PGA Tour had a 69 at Spanish Bay, and Mike Goodes of the Champions Tour had a 69 at Spyglass Hill.
The 32-year-old Welch waited for more than four hours before knowing her lead held up.
“I know it’s possible to win this tournament and I think it would be amazing to play again all these great male players and great women players,” Welch said. “It’s great to represent the nine women who are out her and we can play just as well as the men.”
Defending champion Tommy Armour III, who also has won the event three times, shot a 73 at Pebble Beach.
Kisner takes RSM Classic lead
Davis Love III and Davis Love IV did everything together at Sea Island.
They have the same pre-shot routine, a full practice swing before setting up over the ball. Both hit 3-wood off the tee and made birdie on the opening hole. Both wound up with an even-par 70 on the Seaside Course at St. Simons Island, Ga. And both have a lot of work to make up ground on Kevin Kisner.
Kisner hit 3-wood to about 25 feet on the fringe and made eagle on his penultimate hole on the Plantation Course for a 7-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead based on par after the first round of the RSM Classic. Jeff Overton, David Hearn and Tom Hoge each had a 6-under 64 on the Seaside Course.
The biggest crowd — which wasn’t much on a day when storms threatened but never arrived — filled the bleachers behind the first tee to see some familiar faces.
Love, the 21-time winner on the PGA Tour, has lived at Sea Island since he was 13. They saw his son, known as Dru, go from a toddler with a plastic club to a 6-foot-5 junior at Alabama who earned a spot in the RSM Classic through a qualifier for the final exemption.
Ernst jumps to front at CME
Austin Ernst leads the tournament, Sei Young Kim leads the race for $1 million and Lydia Ko edged closer to everything else that’s at stake this weekend.
Ernst shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-shot lead over Mi Hyang Lee after the opening round of the CME Group Tour Championship at Naples, Fla. Kim, part of a group two shots off Ernst’s pace, would win the season-ending $1 million bonus if the tournament ended in its current order. The top-ranked Ko shot a 69 to move closer to earning honors as player of the year, plus the scoring and money titles.
Lee was alone in second. At 68, Kim was in a six-way tie for third with five Americans — Jennifer Song, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Jaye Marie Green and Gerina Piller.
Second-ranked Inbee Park, the winner last week in Mexico, had a 71.
McIlroy retains standings lead
Rory McIlroy birdied his last hole to keep pace with Danny Willett in their Race to Dubai points fight in the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
McIlroy chipped in from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole for a 4-under 68, leaving him tied with Willett — two shots behind the four leaders at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the United Arab Emirates.
McIlroy leads the standings with 3,393,923 points, followed by Willett with 3,392,310. Players will receive a point for each dollar earned in the event. The points winner will receive $1.25 million and an additional $625,000 for playing three of the four Finals Series events.
Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Andy Sullivan and Marcus Fraser shared the lead at 66s. Two-time defending champion Henrik Stenson had a 77.
Scott sets pace in Melbourne
Adam Scott birdied five of his final eight holes for a 7-under 64 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Australian Masters in Melbourne.
The Australian lost in playoffs in two previous appearances at Huntingdale in 2002 and 2003. He won the event at two other nearby sand-belt courses — in 2012 at Kingston Heath and 2013 at Royal Melbourne.
Australia’s Daniel Fox was second. American amateur Bryson DeChambeau, playing in Scott’s threesome, shot a 69. The former SMU star won the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles this year.