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Elliott, Leonard Share First-Round Lead

February 2, 1996

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Justin Leonard knows all about winning. He just hasn’t done it on the PGA Tour.

John Elliott knows all about losing. And he’s determined not to let this shot at big-time golf slip away.

Two guys on very different ends of the golfing success meter are going into today’s second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tied for the top spot at 5-under-par 67.

And looming just behind are 28 players within two strokes of the lead after a windless day in which the all three courses _ Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Spyglass Hill _ were left defenseless by days of rain.

Leonard, the former U.S. Open and NCAA champion who at age 25 already has three runner-up finishes on the tour, got his share of the lead by rolling in six birdie putts of 15 feet or less in the first nine holes he played at Poppy Hills.

Elliott, a 32-year-old journeyman who has never finished in the top-10 and was sent back to the Nike Tour the last two years, curled in a downhill, 45-foot birdie putt on his last hole at Pebble Beach to finish his improbable round.

``If you said (before the round) I would be leading or tied for the lead I would have said, `Probably not,‴ said Elliott, who finished 45th in PGA Tour qualifying school over the winter and got into this tournament only because the pro-am event played over three courses has an unusually large field.

``It’s an important week to make some money here,″ Elliott. ``I probably need a top-10 finish to get in next week’s tournament.″

Trying to get into tournaments is not a problem for Leonard, who appears to be an emerging star. He won nearly $750,000 last year _ 10 times Elliott’s career earnings on the Tour _ and last week nearly got his first Tour victory, losing a playoff at Phoenix to Phil Mickelson.

``I just ran into a buzzsaw last week,″ Leonard said. ``It hasn’t been something that I hung my head about.″

If Leonard is to get that first victory this week, he’ll have to contend with a slew of challengers. Fuzzy Zoeller, who had a chance for a share of the lead but missed a 2-foot par putt on the final hole at Spyglass, was at 68 along with 10 others, including Loren Roberts and Craig Stadler.

Howard Clark also had a chance for a 67, but took an unplayable lie penalty on No. 9, his final hole at Pebble Beach, and made a double bogey for a 69, putting him in a knot with 16 others, including Nick Faldo and Tom Watson.

Defending champion Peter Jacobsen was five strokes behind, shooting a 72 on Poppy Hills, as did Mickelson, already a two-time winner this year.

It didn’t rain as it had the past two days, but all three courses were sopping wet, and the players were allowed to lift and clean their balls in the fairway.

The biggest problem was on the greens.

``There were a few more heel prints and foot prints on the second nine,″ Leonard, who went out in 31, said about the lack of putts dropping on the next nine.

``It was heel prints and moguls all day,″ said Zoeller, who won here in 1986, but hasn’t won a Tour event since later that year.

The low pro-am team in the 50th edition of what used to be the Bing Crosby Pro-Am was the pairing of Leonard and amateur George Roberts. They shot a better-ball score of 14-under-par with Roberts’ 9 handicap.

Clark and Michael Enthoven, who plays to a 16 handicap, were three strokes behind at 11-under par.

DIVOTS: The AT&T is the only tour stop that allows spectators to take cameras on the course, mostly so the amateurs can have family members snap a shot of them. ... Cellular phones are not allowed, but as Vijay Singh was preparing to drive on No. 3, a phone went off about 10 feet from him, sending the offending fan scurrying off to answer his call. ... Jack Lemmon is off filming in England and missed the tournament after missing the final-day cut 23 consecutive times. But a fan walked the course in a Lemmon mask. ... Comedian Bill Murray, a big crowd favorite, and his partner Scott Simpson were at 9-under par, five strokes behind, in the pro-am.

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