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June 13, 1980 - Image 16

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Michigan Daily, 1980-06-13

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Page 16--Friday, June 13, 1980-The Michigan Daily
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Great Open-ing!

Nicklaus, Weiskopf tie record

By SCOTT M. LEWIS
Specialtothe Daily
"A 63 in the Open happens once a decade
or onceerery 25 Years."
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. - The words
were those of Tom Weiskopf, spoken
moments after he put the finishing
touches on a record-matching 63 in the
first round of the 80th United States
Golf Championship.
But to Weiskopf's surprise and
demise, a 63 is not beyond reach in the
U.S. Open. Not in THIS U.S. Open
anyway, especially when one of the con-
testants is Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus, at 40, was whispered to be
on the downslide of a fabled career. He
proved to more than 20,000 spectators
yesterday that he is still a ferocious
Golden Bear on the course - still one of
the best, if not the best, performer in his
profession.
Nicklaus, too, scored a seven-under
par 63, tying Weiskopf for the lead and
spearheading an assault at the famous
Baltusrol Golf Club.
The 63 duplicated Johnny Miller's in
the 1973 Open and established a new
course mark. The figure also erased the
championship low score at Baltusrol -
65 - set by Nicklaus during his 1967
Open triumph.
The pair of -63's was the most spec-
tacular occurrence on a day which saw
the pros humble the 7,076-yard Lower
Course layout. In sum, a record-tying 19
golfers broke par on the sunny,
pleasantly cool afternoon, as officials
huddled to discuss impending changes
in pin placement and green conditions.
Trailing Nicklaus and Weiskopf by
three strokes are Mark Hayes, Keith
Fergus, and Lon Hinkle (Hinkle, of
course, is the gentleman who had a tree
planted in his honor at last year's Open
in Toledo.)
Clustered in a tie for sixth at 67 are
former Masters and PGA Champion
Raymond Floyd, Jay Haas and Calvin
Peete, while Lee'Trevino heads a group
of four at 68.
Yesterday, however, the spotlight
was focused almost exclusively on
Weiskopf and Nicklaus, both graduates
of Ohio State and both among the tour's
longest drivers. Distance is important
here, particularly on the twin 470-yard
par 4's on the front nine and the 630-
yard seventeenth hole.
"Is that an age or a score?" quipped
Nicklaus as he entered the interview
tent. For Jack, the round laid to rest
any self doubts he might have had con-
cerning his ability to put together a
solid round. Just last week he missed
the cut at the Atlanta Golf Classic,
scoring a miserable first round 78.
The greatest difference in Nicklaus'
game yesterday was his improved put-
ting. He sank five long putts for birdies,
one of seven birds offset only by a single
bogey on the second hole.
"The putter really worked well," said
Nicklaus. "To shoot 63 in the Open is
something else, but to shoot 63 after the
way I've been playing, well .. .
According to Weiskopf, Nicklaus un-
derestimates his own game.
"I think it's great (that Nicklaus is

playing well)," Weiskopf said. "It's
good to see him play that way. You
know, he and I are good friends. We
played a practice round together Wed-
nesday, and I've never seen him play
any better than he did that day. I don't
see why this guy has not won a tour-
nament in two years."
Nicklaus' most impressive shot came
at the 393-yard 13th hole. He nailed a
seven-iron one foot from the pin and
dropped the putt for his third birdie in a
row. That put him at five-under, two
strokes behind Weiskopf.
"I knew of all the birdies by Tom, and
Angelo (Jack's caddie) kept saying

'Answer him,' and we kept answering
him. After that chip at 18, I thought I
would answer him but I didn't."
On the par-five 18th, Nicklaus pitched
to within three feet but missed the
downhill birdie putt, one of the few poor
putts he made all afternoon. The miss
was expensive; were Nicklaus to score
a 62, he would have received $50,000 for
breaking the Open record.
"I really could care less about the
$50,000," he insisted. "I want to win the
U.S. Open - period!"
Nicklaus hasn't won a major title sin-

ce the 1978 Br'itish Open. The victory
drought has been even longer and more
severe for Weiskopf. He last won a
major tournament in 1973 (British
Open), and in recent seasons has won
the label of bridesmaid - always
among the leaders, never at the top.
The past few years have been
frustrating for Weiskopf, who is noted
for his temper as well as for his talent.
In 1979, he slumped to 48th on the
money list and failed to win a single
tournament. In addition, he suffered
from an ulcer problem which curtailed
his playing schedule.
"It's a tremendous feeling, shooting a
63 (31-32)," Weiskopf said. "I only
missed three shots, which I did hit
solidly. It might be one of the finest
rounds I've ever played."
Weiskopf said he's not about to sit
back and let others mhake mistakes.
"I know I can't do any better than
63," he said. "My next objective is to
play aggressively. You can't control
what the others are doing. I'm just
going to go out and try to play good
golf."
No one here is ready to concede the
tournament to Weiskopf, who at times
in his career has displayed similar
brilliance only to collapse in the final
rounds. Nor does Nicklaus plan to
cakewalk his way to a fourth Open title.
Veterans like Floyd, Trevino, defend-
ing champion Hale Irwin (70) and Tom
Watson plan to be heard from before
this event concludes Sunday.
Floyd, a tour pro since 1963, carded a
30 on the front nine (four-under) but
could manage only a 37 on the back. He
and Haas were the early clubhouse
leaders before Weiskopf and Nicklaus
reported their record scores.
Joining Trevino at 68 were Mark Lye
1978 Openchamp, Andy North and Isao
Aoki, of Japan. J.C. Snead and Bill
Rogers leds a band of seven at 69, while'
Watson had a 71.
Watson's score included a hole-in-one
on the 162-yard par-three fourth hole. It
was the seventh ace of Watson's career.
He hit a solid eight iron which landed
two inches right of the cup, trickled
forward and fell in.
The shot, however, was the only ex-
citement generated by Watson. He two-
putted every green but two (on which
he used three putts) and his approaches
seldom came closer to the pin than
twenty-five feet.
Tourney officials are expected to
toughen up the course after today's 36-
hole cut. The sixty lowest scorers and
any tying for sixtieth place or anyone
within ten strokes of the leader will con-
tinue play through the weekend.

4

4

4

4

JACK NICKLAUS directs his ball towards the cup for a birdie on the third
hole in the opening round of the U.S. Open yesterday. Nicklaus completed
theLower Course at Baltusrol with a 7-under par 63 to tie Tom Weiskopf for
the lead. That score equals the U.S. Open record for 18 holes set by Johnny
Miller in 1973.

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