They began to chase Andy Bean early this morning, with Jack Nicklaus leading the charge with a 7:40 a.m. teeoff. These were the old pros aiming to teach young Bean some manners and bring him back to the pack after he threw that sudden 67 'em to take the first day's lead in the Doral Open.
It was futile.
Nicklaus came in with an efficient two-under 70, and still lost ground to the untamed Bean, a 6-foot-4, 206-pound golfing power plant. So did every other pro in the swarm of 156 seeking a share of Doral's $200,000, with the exception of Larry Ziegler, who moved into second place, two strokes back.
Young Bean was nerveless for a chap with only one year's experience on the tour under his belt. He attacked Doral on the second day with the tournament's longest drives, never missed a fairway or a green, and left them all looking at another 67. He's 10 under for the tournament.
Only the veteran Ziegler made any significant charge at Bean, matching his 67 to remain two strokes back at 136, two better than third-men Leonard Thompson and David-Graham, and four in front of Miller Barber and Peter Oosterhuis.
Bean's 33-34 round even won him the day's biggest gallery from Nicklaus, who was ahead of him on the course. This was to the liking of the 1975 University of Florida graduate. "I like a gallery," he said. "All those people challenge my pride. It helps me concentrate." A statement as astonishing as his golf.
The big thing, young Bean said, "was that I didn't lay back. I didn't play defensive golf." This was obvious when he came up to the 16th hole, a 427-yard challenge, and unloaded a 323-yard drive - the devil take the nearby lake. He birdied it with a wedge that left him a three-foot putt.
His round was a paradox for a lad who outdrives the rest of the field. He didn't get a birdie on any of the par-fives that are supposed to be pure birdie meat for the pros. But he was putting for birdies on 10 other holes and notched five of the breed. "When you don't get any bogeys, that's lovely golf," he said.
At Florida, the 23-year-old Bean said he majored in golf and marketing. "In that order, I guess," he said."I played so much golf I had to cram to get by in my studies. I hope it starts paying off." Last year, he won a mere $10,000 on the tour.
He has an eight-stroke bulge on Nicklaus, who was supposed to be the big threat, going into the third round. At 142, Nicklaus is bracketed in a group of nine who made the cut safely, with 146 the dropout point. Fifteen are tied at that score, leaving 84 remaining in the field.
An addition to puncturing par by 10 strokes at the end of the second round, Bean today also punctured a myth. "Let's have enough of all that talk that, I used to be an alligator wrestler," he said. "I once did toss an alligator back into a lake by the tail, but he was only six- or seven-foot thing, and was more scared of me, I think, than I was of him. That's all there is to the story."
That's not all there is to the Doral. They'll be charging at Bean again Saturday and once more on Sunday if he's still in front. He'd like to celebrate his 24th birthday Sunday, he said, by winning his first tournament on the tour. He's not shy about anything.He told the press today that somebody would have to play awfully good golf to beat him.