Hank Lebioda leads Pebble Beach Pro-Am as Gareth Bale makes PGA Tour debut

Unheralded American golfer Hank Lebioda holds the lead after the opening round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which also saw retired footballer Gareth Bale make his PGA Tour debut.

Lebioda enjoyed one of his best days ever on the PGA circuit, firing nine birdies in an eight-under-par 63 to lead by one shot over countrymen Kurt Kitayama, Chad Ramey and England's Harry Hall.

The 29-year-old was playing Monterey Peninsula, the par-71 course that is one of three in use over the first three rounds along with the par-72 layouts Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill.

"I hit a lot of great iron shots. I made the putts when I was close. It was a really nice day," added Lebioda, who is ranked 420th in the world and has never won on the PGA Tour.

"For probably the last couple weeks or so I felt like my putting had really turned a corner," he added. "Even though I may not have shown the results. But I felt more confident standing over the ball. I liked what I was looking at visually standing over it. I knew it was just a matter of time.

"So today, fortunately it was one of the days where quite a few of 'em did go in. Not every day is like that. I was glad I was able to take advantage of it today."

Hall and Kitayama both carded seven-under 64s at Monterey Peninsula while Ramey posted a seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach.

As for the Pro-Am portion of the competition, which features a number of celebrities in action, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and recently retired Wales captain Gareth Bale, many of them found the going quite tough amid the blustery winds at Pebble Beach.

Bale combined with playing partner Joseph Bramlett for a combined seven-under-par 65.

Speaking after his round, the 33-year-old said he was definitely feeling the pressure.

"I think every amateur will tell you, even though we're used to playing in front of 80,000 or more live on TV, it's a completely different sport," said Bale. "Outside your comfort zone and something that's just different. It's a cool experience. Lucky that I hit one of my best shots down the first fairway, which was nice."

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