Tournament of the Centuries – Play Begins
Day number one of Q-School dawned bright and sunny with players out practicing as the sun came up. A player would arrive, see fifty players on the practice tee, another twenty or so on the practice green and the Chairman would just seem to have a knack for finding room for another.
Players teed off when they wanted and seemed to finish in no time. To a man, everyone said that it was the fastest and most orderly round of golf they had ever played. No waiting on tees and no time-consuming rulings which held up play at other tournaments. This Chairman guy seemed to know how to run a tournament.
Though the conditions were optimal for low scoring with over 200 players breaking par, some players just seemed to be out of sorts. Considering their standing before they arrived in this time warp, scores like 77 (Johnny Miller and Paul Azinger) and higher (Ray Floyd, 78, Walter Travis, 78 and Rocco Mediate, 79) seemed very out of character for this group.
Alone at the top of the leaderboard was Greg Norman with a 63. He got out of the gate quickly, with birdies on two and three before dropping an eagle putt on the par five fourth. Four under through four for the Great White Shark. Three birdies in the space of four holes between nine and twelve ran his score to seven under and he finished with a flourish with birdies on the final two holes.
The Chairman saw Norman’s name at the top and said to himself that he hoped Norman wouldn’t do what he had a history of before he arrived here–choking and getting victimized by someone else who wouldn’t be able to drop that shot again if he had another hundred tries at it. Though the only thing the Chairman rooted for was great golf, he had a soft spot in his heart for Norman.
In a crowd such as this, there will always be plenty of people nearby. Payne Stewart came in at 64 along with a gentleman named Palmer, but not Arnold. This Palmer was Johnny, though Arnie would be close by at 67. Among the gentlemen who swung with hickory shafts until only a week ago, Allan Robertson surprised even himself with a six under 66.
The highlight of the round was Alex Campbell’s shot on the 206-yard fourteenth. Though the pin was at its most accessible, in the back right, it was still a lengthy par three and Campbell dropped one in the hole on a couple bounces and a roll. Asked after the round about his ace, all Campbell could say was “It happened so fast.”
THE FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD:
18 majors and I’m going to Q-School? Who does this Chairman guy think he is anyway? as he drew his opening drive just around the dogleg, dropped a short iron right over the front left trap and close
enough to drain an easy birdie putt.
And thus began the round of Jack Nicklaus.
Another birdie on four and then three in a row from six through eight and he was out in 31 and on his way to a far better round than yesterday’s 74. Four more of those red numbers on the back nine, making putts from all over the place, though most were fairly close as he was spot on with his approaches – 21 putts total for the entire round – and he was in with a 63.
Tied for 337th place yesterday, he zoomed into a tie for 16th today.
I’ve got two more of these Claret Jugs in my trophy case.
As for yesterday’s leader, Greg Norman, who had a 63 of his own, a more pedestrian 71 still left him in a tie for fourth behind Bernhard Langer (-13) and Payne Stewart and Gil Morgan (both at -12).
LEADERBOARD AFTER TWO ROUNDS