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Toms leads Roberts, Browne by one shot

November 7, 1997

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) _ For a first-time player in the Kapalua International, David Toms had no trouble finding his way around the Bay Course on the island of Maui.

Toms, who won his first PGA Tour event in the Quad Cities Classic in July, birdied four of the first six holes and four of the last five Thursday for an 8-under-par 63 and a one-stroke, first-round lead over Loren Roberts and Olin Browne.

At 6-under were Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, Dan Forsman and Peter Jacobsen. Mike Standly, Tommy Tolles and Mike Hulbert were at 5-under with PGA Champion Davis Love III in a group of nine at 4-under.

``The course played pretty easy,″ said Toms, who played the shorter of the two layouts used in the first two rounds. ``This is my first time here so I don’t know my way around.″

Birdies on the four par-5 holes made his round easier. He got a huge break on one of the long holes when he hit his drive way right into the hazard area. But the ball caromed off a tree, giving him a playable lie. From there, he ended up making a birdie after knocking a pitching wedge to within 12 feet.

``I shot 8-under, so obviously I played well. But I’m kind of rusty so it’s hard to tell. I haven’t really played for about a month.″

It hasn’t been an easy year for Toms. He missed the cut in nine of 27 events and finished back of the pack _ 30th place and above _ in nine other tournaments.

``This would be a great week to unwind after a long year,″ he said.

Because of the use of two courses with different pars, Roberts’ accomplishment was more noticeable. He got his 7-under at the par-73, 7,263-yard Plantation layout.

``I hit every fairway and every green,″ he said of his bogey-free round.

``I feel like I’m already ahead of the game, having shot 7-under here (at the Plantation).″

Browne, like Toms, played the par-71, 6,531-yard Bay Course and also had no black marks on his card, highlighting his round with a 20-foot birdie on the par 5 15th.

``The par-5s are all reachable and there was hardly a trace of wind so you had to take advantage,″ Browne said.

European Ryder Cup player Bjorn turned in the day’s most interesting round. He made the turn at the Plantation at even par, then birdied six consecutive holes between the 11th an 16th to get back into the hunt. None of the putts was more than 15 feet.

``I can’t remember making six consecutive birdies, especially on a course like this,″ he said. ``I’ve been struggling with my putter late, then, suddenly, I just started making them, which is the way it is in golf sometimes. But you know you can’t make them all.″

Jacobsen, a later starter, appeared to be in position to challenge Toms after playing the first 11 holes in 7-under, but that was a close as he could get.

This year’s tournament, sponsored by Lincoln-Mercury, will be the last after a 16-year run. After skipping 1998, the PGA Tour will bring the Mercedes Championships to Kapalua.

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