Perry Shoots a 63 in Solitude : Golf: While crowds gather around at Indian Wells, he plays Indian Ridge and leads the Hope.


Unofficially, it was Presidents' Day on Wednesday at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, but not where Kenny Perry was playing.

There weren't enough fans in Perry's gallery at Indian Ridge to form a quorum, and it didn't bother him at all.

Some might not even have known where Indian Ridge was because it's in the Hope rotation for the first time.

Actually, Perry preferred it that way, especially after shooting nine-under-par 63 to lead the tournament.

"I'm out there with nobody around me, nobody watching what I'm doing. I'm playing a carefree round of golf," Perry said.

A few miles away, at Indian Wells Country Club, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Ford and comedian Bob Hope were playing with defending champion Scott Hoch and drawing as much media attention as the New Hampshire primary.

So Perry took advantage of being ignored at Indian Ridge--and of fairways as wide as the trade deficit--to take a one-shot first-round lead.

Perry's round featured a 29 on the back nine on a course he was playing for the first time. He saw it for the first time Monday when he toured it in a golf cart.

The way the birdies and eagles were piling up at the four courses, Tom Kite's 35-under-par tournament record in 1992 might be in danger.

Curtis Strange, who shot 64 at Indian Wells, is in a four-way tie for second with Marco Dawson, Jim Gallagher and Robin Freeman, who got there with an eagle on his closing hole at Indian Wells.

There is a four-way tie at 65 among Dillard Pruitt, Kelly Gibson and Keith Fergus. In an eight-way tie, three shots behind Perry, are Scott Simpson, Steve Jones, Tommy Tolles, Chris Perry, Fred Funk, Harry Taylor, Tommy Armour III and Joe Acosta. Only 15 golfers in the pro field of 128 failed to shoot at least par.

"These courses aren't really that difficult," said Dawson, 31, who got ready for the Hope by changing to new clubs, except for his putter.

"Once you hit a few good shots with new irons, it's all confidence," he said. "It's a snowball."

The mental game was also on Strange's mind. He hasn't won a tournament since the 1989 U.S. Open and said his attitude hasn't been all that good.

"I've been very mediocre with a very mediocre attitude on the golf course," he said. "Things haven't been been in a panic situation, but they haven't been smooth, either.

"I do have an upbeat attitude when I get to the course, but sometime during the course of play it becomes a mediocre attitude," he said.

After his 64, Strange was asked to gauge his attitude. "Obviously, it's very good," he said.

Pruitt's 65 at La Quinta was encouraging to him, but he pointed out that there are still 72 holes to go.

"It's a pretty long tournament," he said.

At least, it's a tournament, a PGA tournament for Tolles, 28, a six-time qualifying school veteran.

He made the cut at Pebble Beach and played with Ben Crenshaw and Mark Brooks. Afterward, he asked for their autographs.

In fact, after four years on the Nike Tour, he got used at Pebble Beach to playing on the big tour.

He remembered the moment.

"I finally opened my eyes, I took a breath and my knees stopped shaking," he said.




Kenny Perry: 34-29--63

Marco Dawson: 32-32--64

Curtis Strange: 32-32--64

Jim Gallagher: 35-29--64

Robin Lee Freeman: 33-31--64

Keith Fergus: 32-33--65

Dillard Pruitt: 32-33--65

Kelly Gibson: 31-34--65

Eight tied at 66



Fuzzy Zoeller: 34-34--68

Corey Pavin: 34-35--69

John Cook: 35-34--69

Scott Hoch: 35-35--70

Tom Kite: 33-38--71

Arnold Palmer: 40-36--76

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