High winds after an early morning down-pour curtained the first full practice round today for Thursday's 41st renewal of the Masters tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.
Jack Nicklaus, the only five-time winner of this tournament, joined the group late this afternoon and did his usual experimenting over the course.
Few of the golfers admitted to keeping a score. Washington's Lee Elder played 13 holes and quit. Sam Snead, a three-time winner, played nine holes with the nephew, J.C. Snead, and then also called it a day.
Ray Floyd, the defending champion, said today that he doubted a "stranger," meaning one of the younger, under-30 pros who have dominated the winder circuit, would win the Masters. But the feeling is growing that the esablishment names will be shunted aside by the cocky young pros.
Burke Lietzke, 25, a two-time winner on the winter tour and second on the money-winning list with $128,300 (Tom Watson is the leader with $135,185), served notice on the veterans that the young guard was not intimidated by the Masters and its traditions.
"I played 18 holes Monday and only the back nine today," Lietzke said.
"The Augusta course is shorter than I thought watching it on television. I'm getting to know the holes. I'm driving the ball well and my irons are doing their job along with my putting. I have no complaints at all about my game.
"I have tried to approach the Masters as just another tour stop - nothing special. But I know deep in my heart and mind the Masters will be the biggest tournament I've ever played and winning it will be something special."
Lietzke had 26 consecutive rounds of par or better this winter. He took three weeks off when his father died in February. A product of the University of Houston, he revealed that he once quit the game entirely after graduating from college in 1973.
"The game was no longer fun for me," he said. "I didn't touch a club for six months and then I got the urge again. I missed the PGA qualifying school by one stroke but I got my card in 1975."
Lietzke says he plays a lot of tennis to keep in shape. He stands 6-foot-2 and weights 195 pounds. "Tennis is my most active sport," he explained. "I don't get much out of fishing. But my real hobby is cars. I love to tear down engines, even if sometimes i can't put them back together again. I'm getting a new car and I intend to do a lot of drag-racing in Tulsa, near the home I'm building. Danny Edwards (another 25-year-old Oklahoman, who won the Greater Greensboro Open Sunday) also is a car nut."
lietzke says he will take a couple of weeks off next month to attend the Indianapolis 500. Asked about his goals, he said: "I went by them so fast this winter I don't know if I have any left except continuing to enjoy playing the PGA tour.
"In addition to Lietzke, the younger group includes such talented golfers as Edwards, Ben Crenshaw, Watson, Andy Bean, Tom Putzer, Gary Koch and Jerry Pate.
Pate, 23, who won the U.S. and Canadian opens last year and then started this year by winning the Phoenif Open, is not regarded as a serious contender here because ofa sore right shoulder and bad right wrist. he has been treating the shoulder but isn't too encouraged about his chances.
Tom Weiskppf, a four-time runner-up in this tournament, again will be one of the favorites because of his first two practice rounds, in which he registered a 65 and then a 67. Arnold Palmer, 47, a four-time winner, confessed that he was tired after shooting a 73 Monday. "I think I'll rest the old bones," he said.