Hubert Green, who has everything in his wardrobe for the color matching his name except the green coat of the Masters, made at least a down payment on the missing item today. He took a two-stroke lead after the first round of the famed tournament with a five under-par 67.
A total of 15 palyers broke par 72.
The first man out, Don January, a 47-year-old veteran of 16 Masters, and Bill Kratzert, the last man in, tied for second place at 69. Kratzert, 24, a University of Georgia graduate, was disqualified in the fourth round of the Greater Greensboro Open Sunday for driving across an out-of-bounds section. The disqualification cost $1,500.
There were five familiar tour names bunched at 70 - Hale Irwin, Jerry Pate, Tom Kite, Rik Massengale and Tom Watson - followed by seven more regulars, including defending champion Ray Floyd, Ben Crenshaw and Gary Player. Jack Nicklaus was at par 72 along with Danny Edwards, who got the last ticket to the Masters by winning in Greensboro. Bruce Lietzke, another young hotshot this winter, managed a 73, as did Tom Weiskopf and Dave Stockton, the PGA champion.
Lee Elder had a disappointing 76. He started well with two bogeys and two birdies on the front for a 36 but then had a disastrous double-bogey 7 on the par-five 13th hole. He had two other bogeys on the back nine for a 40. Jinnie Giles of Richmond, former U.S. and British amateur champion who has played little competitive golf recently, had an 82.
"I drove well but I didn't putt well," said Elder. "I had 36 putts where I should have had 31 at most. But I'll do better. I'll be right there."
The 30-year-old Green, who has won 11 tournaments but never a major one, was out in 34 and home in 33. He birdied all four par-fives along with one par-three and the tough par-four 18th. He required 30 putts but complained that he didn't make at least eight within 15 feet for birds.
"I played well, shot-wise," he elaborated, "and my irons put one in position for a lot of birdies I didn't make."
Several of the players, including Nicklaus, complained about the "alowness" of the Augusta greens. Floyd was the lone dissenter. "The greens were the fastest for a first round here I've ever seen," he said, "but the pin placements were murderous."
Nicklaus required 37 putts for his round, missing four from within four feet. "That's an awful lot of putts for a 72," he commented. "I'm upset over my inability to get the ball in the hole. The greens were slow and grainy but we were all putting the same greens."
Green birdied the second hole when he chipped to six feet. He put another chip shot a foot away on the eighth. He bogeyed the 10th when he bunkered his second shot but sank a 15-footer for a birdie-four on the 13. He put a three-wood on the green in two on the par-five 15th and two-putted for another birdie. He hit a four-iron on the 190-yard 16th and made the 10-footer for a birdie. On the 18th, he stuck a six-iron six feet away and holed it.
"It was a very enjoyable round," Green admitted. "There are a lot of holes on this course that can lull you to sleep. At least I didn't put the ball in the water the way I normally do.
"The Masters is a very important part of my tour life.I've geared myself to win a major tournament. This week is very important to me and I must do well. I need to win a major."
Kratzert, who got into the Masters as a pro because he won the Walt Disney National Team Title last fall with Woody Blackburn, was out in 35 and back in 34. He had only one birdie on the front, on the first hole when he made a 10-foot putt. He parred the next 11 holes and tehn birdied the par-five 13th when he was on in two and two-putted. He put a wedge two feet from the hole on the par-five 15th and then parred in.
"I played here as an amateur in 1974," he recalled, "and had a 79. This is much better. I would have been satisfied today with a 72."
January opened with a bogey but made a 40-footer for a birdie on the second hole. He birdied the sixth from 15 feet and made the turn in 35. He started the back nine with a bogey and then birdied three more holes. He saved par on the 18th when he blasted out two feet from the pin on his third shot.
"Conditions were perfect when I played," said the veteran. January has been bothered by a bad back and had to pull out of the Jackie Gleason tournament in February. "I do a lot of exercises in my therapy," he said, "and when I don't, I have to pay the price. But the back didn't bother me today. It was stiff but no pain."
Kite said the greens played slower than the players expected. "They weren't slow by tour standards," he amended, "but they were slow by August National standards."
Pete, antoher of the walking wounded with a sore right wrist and tendinitis in the right shoulder, had two birdies and two bogeys on the front. He made three birdies on the back, all on long putts. He had one bogey, on the 15th, when he put a five-wood shot in the water.
Johnny Miller, who has won little more than $1,000 this year, still was unable to shake his slump and had a 78, putting him in danger of missing the cut for only the second time in eight Masters.
There was sad news for the geriatric set, too. Sam Snead, the 64-year-old dean of the tour and a three-time winner, had an embarrassing 83 and withdrew. Arnold Palmer, who has won the Masters four times, had a 76 today.