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Lehman Leads After Wet First Round

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - A day late, golfers finally finished the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Friday. Completing the rest of the tournament may be just as tough.

With periods of rain forecast for Saturday and scattered showers expected Saturday night, the tournament risks going uncompleted for the second time in three years. It was scrapped after two rounds in 1996 because of rain and wet greens.

Tom Lehman shot a 4-under 32 for his nine holes Friday, giving him a first-round total of 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead over Phil Mickelson. Six players, including Tom Watson and Paul Azinger, were tied for third with 67.

Tiger Woods was at 4-over 76, 12 shots off the lead. Defending champion Mark O'Meara, who is paired with Woods, also was at 76.

Golfers played nine holes under sunny skies Friday, completing the first round that began four hours late on Thursday because of rain and hail. Organizers hope to play the second round Saturday and the third round Sunday.

If the weather cooperates and 54 holes have been completed by Sunday, organizers then will decide whether to try to get in a fourth round on Monday. Even if only two rounds have been completed by Sunday, officials may try to get in a third round on Monday.

``Officials are going to make every effort for the professionals to complete 72 holes of tournament play. This could result in play being extended to Monday,'' said a statement released by tournament organizers and PGA Tour officials.

``Depending on weather conditions, the decision to play 54 or 72 holes will be made by the PGA Tour and the tournament committee at the conclusion of the round on Saturday,'' the statement said.

The Pro-Am portion of the tournament will end on Sunday, officials said, even if organizers decide to have the pros play on Monday.

The last PGA Tour event to be extended to Monday was the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, last June.

Lehman said the half-rounds on Thursday and Friday probably marked the first time he's played nine-hole rounds since seventh grade at Central Junior High School in Alexandria, Minn.

``Both days were easy. You go out and play nine holes, it just seems like a very simple matter,'' said Lehman, who has not won a tournament in the United States since 1996. ``With 18 holes, you have to gear yourself up for being out there for five hours.''

The National Weather Service forecast rain early Saturday morning and periods of rain throughout the day, with scattered evening showers. Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny in the morning, with increasing clouds in the afternoon.

Though conditions were tame on Friday, waves from the Pacific Ocean still crashed above the seawall and sprayed onto the 18th fairway on the Pebble Beach course one of three used in the tournament.

Lehman said golfers expect challenging conditions at Pebble Beach, including soggy greens and gusty winds. But he admitted he'll be upet if he's leading a tournament that cannot be completed.

``It would bother me if I shoot 64 tomorrow and then a big rain storm comes in and washes out the tournament,'' he said.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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