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THE BRITISH OPEN : First Round Belongs to Turnberry as Only Woosnam Is Equal to Par

July 18, 1986|MIKE DOWNEY | Times Staff Writer

TURNBERRY, Scotland — On these links of yore, these legendary Scotland yards, every hole has a name: No. 5 is Fin' Me Oot; No. 7 is Roon the Ben; No. 14 is Risk-an-Hope; No. 17, longest hole of the back nine, is Lang Whang.

Golfers were calling these holes other names by the time the first round of the British Open ended Thursday.

Roger Maltbie, having fought maddening conditions and elements for a 78, said: "Either I have a misconception of how the game of golf was meant to be played, or they do."

Curtis Strange, after a 79, was really roon the ben. "I came as close as I ever have to walking off a golf course," he said. "The only reason I didn't is because I never have."

Not a soul broke par. Only one equaled it: Welshman Ian Woosnam, who shot a 70 and led the British Open by a stroke on a lusty, gusty day that put the brrrrr in Turnberry.

A full 48 players shot 80 or worse. One player had a 57 after 10 holes and called it a tournament, withdrawing.

A few men made do. Three other Britons--Nick Faldo, Robert Lee and Gordon J. Brand--shot 71s, as did Swede Anders Forsbrand. West Germany's Bernhard Langer managed a 72, then said: "The par here ought to be 75, maybe more."

The lone Americans among the top 11, Sam Randolph and Ron Commans, both from USC, also scrambled to 72s. "The course is too tight," Randolph said. "Even a good drive can end up in deep rough."

Now, the horror scores: Tom Watson, 77. Defending champion Sandy Lyle and U.S. Open champion Raymond Floyd, 78. Lee Trevino, 80. Corey Pavin, 81. Severiano Ballesteros eagled the 17th and still could do no better than a 76.

Jack Nicklaus eagled the 17th and birdied the 18th to barely break 80. He needed a couple of really lang whangs, not to forget putts of 15 and 25 feet, on those last two holes to salvage a 78.

Craig Stadler shot an 82, triple-bogeying Risk-an-Hope. He also hurt his wrist so badly on that hole, trying to punch the ball from the rough, that he played the rest of the round virtually one-handed.

"If I'd hit it in the rough one more time, I might have thought it wasn't worth it," Stadler said.

There were eight 85s, two 86s, three 87s and a 95. It was an Elks lodge outing.

And then there was Andrew Broadway, club pro of a nine-hole course at an English Channel retirement community called Peacehaven. The poor bloke played 10 holes, was 18 over par and working his way toward a score of 100 when he decided he had pretty much taken enough grief from Turnberry, thank you very much, and withdrew. He kept playing. He just stopped keeping score.

Go ahead, headline writers: "Broadway Flop Closes in One Night."

Better players than Broadway were flustered.

"These aren't exactly the kind of scores we traveled thousands of miles to shoot," Nicklaus said.

Said Ballesteros: "Four days like this and 320 shots might win it."

And Greg Norman said: "Today was the kind of day when you walk off with a headache."

Even a respectable 74 did not keep Norman from noticing that dozens of his colleagues were "being humiliated."

At one point during the exasperating day, Norman turned to his playing partner, Floyd, and inquired: "Have you ever played a course in these conditions where you feel like a nonentity? You hack away for a 74 and it feels like 64."

He found little sympathy from Floyd. At the 14th hole, on the way to his 78, the U.S. Open champion put a ball into the wasteland that passes for Turnberry's rough. He never saw it again.

"They found four other balls but not mine," Floyd said.

He took an 8 on a par 4.

Before that, at the 12th, Norman missed a putt because the wind diverted it an inch and a half to the right, he said. Floyd paid attention. He aimed an eight-footer slightly to the left of the hole. It never budged off a straight path.

About that time, Floyd was feeling what the 16th hole is called--Wee Burn.

The 14th may have to be renamed Mize's Visor. While pulling his club back on a short putt there, Larry Mize's visor blew off his head. He missed. Double bogey. Score for the day: 79.

The eighth can become Somers' Trousers. Putting a 1 1/2-footer, Australian Vaughan Somers felt a gust of wind blow up his waterproof pants, and his putter got caught in the folds. Double bogey. But at least he recovered for a 73.

It was so chilly and windy, with gusts up to 40 m.p.h that golfers had wardrobe trouble galore. In the morning, Strange wore a sweater over a golf shirt, over a turtleneck, over thermal underwear. Waiting to tee off at the seventh hole, he pulled on large woolen mittens.

The course got to Strange more than the cold, though. Particularly the thick rough. "I got tired of hitting the ball out of that (bleep) all day," Strange snapped.

So did Broadway, which is why he withdrew. On the 10th hole, his ball was in deep rough, 40 yards away from the green. He barely moved it with four shots and took a 10. It was time to wave the white towel.

Woosnam, the leader, could relate to that. At the French Open, he took a 16 on a par 3.

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