PEBBLE BEACH 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 with an errant approach shot on the sixth hole. She faded before the turn and combined with Bohn for a 2-under-par 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 four feet on the first hole and outdrove everybody on the second while hitting from a forward tee. She rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 3, pumping her left arm in celebration. She kept almost everything in the fairway for another three holes.
But 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 gallery on the left side of the fairway.
The ball struck a spectator on her forehead, which gushed with blood and sent her to the ground. 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 said 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, spraying shots all over the course.
Other adventures Dustin Johnson, a two-time winner of the event, had a four-putt on his way to a 3-over 73 at Monterey Peninsula.
John Daly had a three-putt from three feet on the seventh hole and took four to get down from 18 feet just off the ninth green. He had a 77.
Heath Slocum made four eagles in 1,602 holes that he played on the PGA Tour last year. He made two in a 13-hole stretch, hitting a 3-wood to seven feet on the sixth hole at Pebble Beach and a 3-wood to seven feet on the 18th hole. He opened with a 69.
David Duval, making his first start of the year, opened with a 79 at Spyglass and later said on Twitter his knees were troubling him and he had a hard time walking the course.
Geoff Ogilvy had a 73 at Spyglass. He needs to finish about fifth to qualify for the Match Play Championship, which he has won twice.