PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Kim Welch shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday 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.
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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 I would be amazing to play again all these great male players out 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.