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Olazabal Suffers a First-Round Knockout

NOTES

June 19, 1999|BILL PLASCHKE and THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal withdrew from the U.S. Open on Friday after angrily punching a hotel wall and breaking his hand.

Olazabal, not known for showing much emotion, may have been upset after finishing Thursday's round with a bogey, bogey, par and double bogey en route to a 75, placing him eight strokes behind the leaders at Pinehurst. He punched the wall Thursday night.

In a statement, Olazabal said doctors told him he would miss three to four weeks. But it will take him much longer to live down the perceived stupidity of his actions.

"This game makes you crazy, but, heck, if I was the Masters champion, I wouldn't be punching anything," John Daly said. "I'm the only one here who's got a reason to punch anything."

*

Stepping onto the green at No. 16, at the end of a long two days, Jack Nicklaus was asked if he could produce one bit of magic for his huge gallery.

"I said, 'Jack, give them a thrill, see how loud they can get, make this putt for birdie,' " playing partner Hal Sutton recalled.

Nicklaus did, eliciting a roar that whipped through the towering trees at Pinehurst No. 2.

"How about that?" Nicklaus said later with mock enthusiasm. "I had a birdie today, and a birdie yesterday!"

And little else, as his 43rd consecutive U.S. Open ended prematurely when he missed the cut with a two-day total of 153.

Six months after undergoing hip replacement surgery, he looked at least that old.

"The hip didn't have anything to do with anything, it's fine," Nicklaus said. "I'm just not strong yet. Guys I'm playing with are outhitting me by 60-70 yards. I just don't have the strength to play golf yet."

*

Hale Irwin withdrew after playing six holes because of a problem with his left shoulder.

Irwin, 54, a three-time U.S. Open champion, was two over for the round and had bogeyed back-to-back holes when he was forced to stop after his second shot on No. 7.

"This is the first time I've ever withdrawn from a tournament in my life," Irwin said.

*

Paul Goydos of Coto de Caza, one of four first-round leaders, was still tied for the lead Friday before making double bogey on the 447-yard 12th hole. "I hit five really bad shots and a good tap-in," Goydos said. He also bogeyed 15 and 17 (both par threes) to finish at four-over 74. He is at one-over 141 for the tournament.

Esteban Toledo of Costa Mesa was even for the day through 13 holes but made bogeys on the par-4 14th and the par-3 15th to finish at two-over 72. Toledo also is two-over (142) for the tournament and five shots off the lead.

Chris Tidland, who was a prep standout at Valencia High, also made the cut. Tidland had an eagle on the 335-yard third hole and was even on the first nine. He had a double bogey and three bogeys against one birdie on the back for a 40. Tidland finished at five-over 75 and is at 146.

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