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Palmer group negotiating to buy Pebble Beach

A group of investors, including Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood, is negotiating to purchase the exclusive Pebble Beach golf resort -- and the pricetag could hit $1 billion, according to published reports.

Golfweek magazine reported on its Web site Wednesday that Palmer's group is "in serious negotiations" to buy the luxury property from the Lone Cypress Co.

The Los Angeles Times, citing a source close to the negotiations, said "pieces are still in motion."

Palmer confirmed to Golfweek's source that former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, Eastwood and former United Airlines chief executive Richard J. Ferris belong to the group bidding on Pebble Beach, one of the nation's most prestigious golf courses open to the public.

Ferris, a close friend and business associate of Palmer and Ueberroth, is chairman of the PGA Tour's policy board.

If the reports are accurate, it would be the second time in the past 10 years that Pebble Beach has been sold by Japanese interests.

Lone Cypress, an investment partnership owned by Taiheiyo Club, Inc., a Japanese golf-resort company, and Sumitomo Credit Services Co., one of Japan's leading issuers of Visa cards, bought Pebble Beach Company from Minoru Isutani for an estimated $500 million in 1992.

The Times said Ueberroth's group was negotiating with Lone Cypress Co., current owner of the resort, to acquire the Pebble Beach Co. -- which brings with it Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, The Links at Spanish Bay, Del Monte Golf Course, two luxury hotels and the 17-Mile Drive that winds through Pebble Beach and nearby Del Monte Forest.

"Peter has thought about Pebble Beach for some time," David Jay Flood, a Los Angeles architect and Ueberroth's longtime friend, told the Mercury News.

Pebble Beach sources told Golfweek the deal is all but done.

Isutani lost a reported $350 million on its deal, having paid an estimated $850 million to a partnership led by oilman Marvin Davis for the resort in 1990.

Pebble Beach was nearly $20 million in the red for every month Isutani owned it, the Mercury News said.

Lone Cypress ran into local opposition to some of its development plans. The company is almost finished building a 24-room lodge, the Casa Palmero resort and spa, and had plans to build a new golf course and develop more than 300 home sites.

The 99th U.S. Amateur will be played at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill on Aug. 16-22, and Pebble Beach will host its fourth U.S. Open next summer.