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Condoleezza Rice rides highs, lows at Pebble Beach

Thursday - 2/7/2013, 7:53pm  ET

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hits from the fifth tee of the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP Sports Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- The first thing Condoleezza Rice told playing partner Jason Bohn when she walked onto the practice green at picturesque Pebble Beach eased any tension in the group.

"Roll Tide," she said.

A smart move for the fellow Alabama fan.

Also maybe the lightest -- and least nerve-racking -- moment of her opening round Thursday, when the former Secretary of State made her most public outing on the course since becoming the first of two female members at Augusta National.

Rice started strong but was clearly rattled after she hit a woman in the head on an errant approach shot on the sixth hole. She faded before the turn and combined with Bohn for a 2-under 70 in the pro-am portion of the tournament.

"Somebody asked me, 'How did it compare to diplomacy?'" Rice said while walking off the 18th green. "And I said, 'Well, I know how to do diplomacy, I'm not so sure about the golf course.'"

Rice's round started with a flurry and collapsed with a thud.

She chipped within 4 feet on the first and outdrove everybody on the second while hitting from the ladies' tee. Then she rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt, pumping her left arm in celebration. She kept almost everything in the fairway for another three holes.

The shot everybody in the gallery will remember most is the one Rice would rather forget.

Standing on the steep hill for a blind approach shot on the sixth, Rice hit a hybrid that sent the ball into the left side of the gallery about 50 feet away -- and nowhere near the green more than 150 feet to the right.

The ball struck a spectator on her forehead, which gushed with blood and sent her to the ground to recover.

The woman wept in pain while her daughter applied towels and medical personnel hustled over. Rice apologized to the woman and had an assistant get her phone number.

The woman was later walking in the gallery when Rice finished on No. 18. She declined to give her name but told The Associated Press she was treated for a bruise and given pain medication. No stitches were needed.

"We didn't talk about it. We tried not to," said Rice's caddie, Kathryn Imrie, the assistant women's golf coach at Stanford, where Rice teaches and often mentors and helps recruit student-athletes. "Obviously, she was really concerned. And for it not to bother her probably would be tough."

Clearly, it was.

Rice, 58, struggled to find a rhythm the rest of the way. She sprayed shots all over the course and even yelled out "fore left!" when the other amateur in the foursome, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, hit a wayward drive on the 12th.

"If I were playing with Condi, I'd be thinking right," Stephenson quipped, referring to the Republican side of the political spectrum.

Others in the group, which also included Joe Ogilvie, seemed more relaxed on one of golf's most famous courses than the competitive former Secretary of State who served during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Bohn said he was thrilled when the PGA Tour asked if he wanted to be Rice's partner after Davis Love III dropped out with a neck injury. Bohn said his family and friends were so excited they spent one night writing out a list of questions.

"My next-door neighbors were all involved. And I was like, 'Woah, woah, woah. I can't give you some of the questions,'" he recalled. "I said, "I've got to see how it goes. I've got to see how deep we can go into it.'"

The two pros said Rice seemed more interested in talking golf than politics, and she spent most of the 5
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