Rookie Loupe sets early pace at rain-hit Pebble

Thu Feb 6, 2014 9:48pm EST
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(Reuters) - PGA Tour rookie Andrew Loupe stole the limelight from some of golf's biggest names by charging into an early two-shot lead in the rain-delayed opening round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Thursday.

The 25-year-old American, who has missed the cut in all six of his previous starts on the U.S. circuit, fired an eight-under-par 63 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, one of three venues being used for this week's event.

Loupe, who tied for sixth at the Tour's season-ending Tour Championship to earn his card for the 2013-14 PGA Tour, birdied five of his last nine holes on the easiest of three courses to soar to the top of the leaderboard.

"I just keep telling myself, you're supposed to be here, you're going to play good, just keep playing," Loupe told reporters after his flawless eight-birdie display.

"And this is just one round, guys, you know, but I feel good."

Australian Stuart Appleby, who carded a six-birdie 65 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, was one of five players knotted at six-under before play was suspended for the day in fading light.

Level with Appleby were compatriot Scott Gardiner, who also started out at Monterey Peninsula, and Americans Jimmy Walker, Jim Renner and Richard H. Lee.

FedExCup points leader Walker returned a 66 on the hosting Pebble Beach Golf Links while Renner and Lee both shot 65s on the Shore Course.