Curtis Strange, who last week qualified for the PGA Tour, and George Griffin, a pro who recently lost his card, shared the medal in the sectional qualifying trial for the U.S. Open at Washingtonian's unyielding National Course yesterday with a 36-hole total of 146, six over par.
Four strokes behind was George Graefe, former amateur who won the Maryland Open last year. Doug Ballenger and Larry Wise, former Congressional pro, tied at 151, Ballenger won the fourth place in the field of 26 in a payoff with a par on the second extra hole.
Strange, 22, had a morning round of 71, two strokes better than Graefe and Wise, but had problems with the wind in the afternoon and came in with 75.
The gusts, officially clocked at more than 30 miles an hour, caused the scores to soar.
Griffin, 29-year-old pro from Lafayette Hill, Pa., near Philadelphia, had the best round, a par 70 in the afternoon after morning 76.
The National Course thus retained its reputation as one of the toughest qualifying sites in the Open. No one has ever equalled or broken par in the seven years the National has hosted 36-hole trials.
There were some surprises. Amateur Gary Mankulish, who has been playing well and will seek his PGA tour card this fall, had a morning round of 80 and finished with 76. He had a chance in the afternoon with [WORD ILLEGIBLE] but he came back in 42.
Roger Simpkins, another new pro and a top amateur while at the University of Maryland, had two 80's.
Strange, former NCAA champion and Walker Cup player, had a tough time in the morning on the first nine. He bogeyed the third hole, missing a four-footer, and double-bogeyed the fifth after hitting a tree. He made a 25-foot birdie putt on six and put a six-iron three feet away on the eighth for another birdie. He parred in.
In the afternoon, Strange three-putted the third hole for bogey but made up for that with a 20-foot birdie on the fifth. He also three-putted the ninth. He bogeyed three holes in a row from 12 through the 14 but settled down and parred in.
"The National Course in a tough track," he said. "I plan to play every tournament on the PGA tour from now on. I have seven exemptions, but I want to see what I can do with a late start."
Griffin, was out in 33 in his afternoon round and back in 37. He birdied the first two holes on long putts, birdied the eight after hitting a six-iron five feet away, but bogeyed the ninth with three putts. He had a chance to win the medal but he bogeyed the last two holes.