For Lee Elder, the second time around at Augusta was at once a relief and a headache. Two years ago, he arrived - as the first black in the Masters - with reporters and other amateur sociologists yipping at his heels. Today, he arrived almost without notice - but scored worse.
"I'm so much more relaxed, not tight at all," he said. He was timid on the greens, however. Expecting glass he had gotten glus, or so it often seemed, and he came up short with a four-over-par 76.
Like two years ago, Elder's major problems were the holes a player needs to beat to win the Masters - the par-fives. The first-round leader, Hubert Green, birdied all four of them during a round of 67 today. Elder player them in one over, including a double bogey at the relatively easy 13th.
If there was much that resembled two years ago, a major contrast was evident as soon as he arrived at the club this morning. Where once he had been surrounded even before he entered the clubhouse, only two youngsters bothered to ask for his autograph today and nobody pestered him with questions.
"Before the first time here," said his wife, Rose, "I had to change our flight from Greensboro three times to avoid all the people. It was almost like going incognito at times. How he played as well as he did (a two-over 74 the first round), I don't know."
That was when such as Jim Brown was on hand for the occasion and holding press conferences in the parking lot, when Elder himself stuffed his wrist watch into his pocket and his golf balls into his locker before leaving for the practice tee.
"Think I'm nervous?" he had said. "How can you tell?"
This morning, there was a crowd of two near Elder, and he was outgoing and optimistic.
"See you after I shoot 65," he said. "The par-fives? I'm gonna get 'em this time."
And that seemed likely when he stood over a four-foot birdie putt on the second hole. As would happen all too frequently later, the putt never had a chance.
"Sometimes I'd be short, other times I'd be long," he said later. "I just couldn't judge the speed, which was a shame because I hit the ball well otherwise. I can't drive the ball any better than I did most of the time today, and that miss at nine kinda put me in a bad frame of mind for the rest of the round."
That putt on nine was about 18 inches, all of it downhill, after a lag that ended closer to the hole than seemed possible when the ball left his club. But the for bogey, which he made, was slightly longer.
From an even-par front nine (he bogeyed the fifth hole, then birdied the seventh and birdied the par-five eighth hole from three feet). Elder suddenly skipped to three over after a short second shot at No. 10 and a four-iron from the fairway on No. 13 that looked as though some duffer from the gallery had struck it.
Trying to keep the ball right, Elder hooked it drastically, but not drastically enough, as it turned out.
"If had gone into the hazard and I could have taken a drop. I think I'd have been better off," he said. "Instead, I had an awful stance and hit the next shot into another hazard." What he ended up with, after two putts, was seven.
It could have been worse. Larry Ziegler, a contender here in recent years, turned in a card that included three sixes and a seven and ended with a bottom line of 83. Vinnie Giles had a quadruplebogey seven on No. 12 and the ancient Master, Sam Snead, later carded a drip-dry eight there.
That hardly was any comfort to Elder as he slumped off the 13th green, suddenly in danger of missing the cut here for the second straight time. He later had three reasonable chances to cut that three-over-par number, but instead increased it by a stroke.
After a splendid drive on No. 17, Elder hit an iron shot that almost flew the green. Two chip shots later, a reasonable shot at a birdie had become a bogey.
Obscured, but not forgotten, were several excellent shots - the approach to within six feet and the bird at the par-four seventh hole, two fine woods that set up the bird a hole later, and a delicate chip to help save par at No. 11.
Two years ago, after his 74, Elder had been paraded into the press area. The next day, after a six-over 78, he was herded back again. Today, he was treated no differently than Takashi Murakami or some of the others foreign to Augusta National types. But better became worse, a chance to play well on a course he admires was soured.
"Tomorrow," he said in the parking lot. "There's still tomorrow."