Kite, Thorpe, Bryant, Hatalsky tied for lead

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- Tom Kite, Jim Thorpe, Brad Bryant and
Morris Hatalsky each shot 6-under par rounds of 66 to share the
first-round lead Friday at the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic.

Andy Bean, John Harris, Hale Irwin, Bruce Lietzke, James Mason,
Peter Jacobsen and Craig Stadler all were one stroke behind at
5-under 67 on the par-72 Tournament Players Course at Snoqualmie

Thorpe called the 7,120-yard Jack Nicklaus-designed course
"generous" in the first round and it appears ready to yield
plenty of high scores this weekend -- especially to the longer

"The scores are going to be pretty good," said Dan Pohl, one
of several golfers within striking distance after his 4-under 68.
"You could attack, and you have to take advantage of the par-5s."

The seniors staged their first event in the Seattle area since
the GTE Northwest Classic, which ran from 1986-95. In the final
year, tournament champion Walter Morgan won $90,000; This weekend's
winner gets $240,000.

Bryant and Hatalsky each collected six birdies on the back nine,
with Bryant surging into a share of the lead with birdies on the
final two holes.

Hatalsky switched back this week to a mallot-style putter he'd
abandoned about a month earlier. His experiment with a bladed
putter didn't lead to a measurable improvement.

"I was just struggling a little bit with the first putter, and
I was blaming the putter more than myself," he admitted. "That's
always a good out."

Hatalsky has earned a reputation as one of the game's best
putters, and he demonstrated it by logging six birdies on the back

"It happened quickly. It was fun. Occasionally, I get it
going," he said.

He was at even-par at the turn, then found his rhythm. And few
of his putts were gimmes -- he connected from 23 feet on No. 13,
from 14 feet on No. 14 and made a pair of 12-footers on the 16th
and 17th.

"I was out of sync on the front side, then I made a really nice
putt on No. 10," he said. "From there, I starting making a lot of
nice putts."

Thorpe, meanwhile, finished with two birdies over the final four
holes and tied for the lead with an eagle on No. 18, a par-5,
498-yard finale. After his drive, he hit a 4-wood to within 14 feet
and made the putt.

"From No. 11 on, I hit the ball very well," Thorpe said. "I
felt my iron game was very good today, and then I hit two very good
shots at No. 18."

He said the course was firm under Friday's clear skies and
played shorter than during a Pro-Am earlier in the week,
encouraging aggressive play.

"The weather was perfect," Thorpe said. "I like this golf
course. The greens are loaded. ... We know we can make birdies out

Thorpe, who won events in Texas and Florida on consecutive
weekends earlier this season, donated $250,000 to his church after
the first win and joked that his game has been steady since then.

"There's nothing wrong with giving," Thorpe said, smiling.

Kite had eight birdies but also bogeyed two holes -- mistakes he
called "unforced errors" on Nos. 3 and 17. But he also had a nice
birdie on No. 18 after an embedded ball prompted a drop.

Another three feet on Kite's approach, and he probably would
have had a 5-foot eagle putt for the lead. Instead, he survived a
tricky lie when his drop stopped just above a greenside bunker.

"You practice bunker shots, but you don't practice that shot,"
he said. "I wasn't even close to grounding my club. I stayed well
away. It was hanging by one little thread of rye grass."