Dave Stockton was in the playing group with Al Geiberger at Memphis on Friday when golf history was made.
"My game has not been the same since," Stockton said today is recalling Geiberger's 59, an alltime PGA tour low. It was like the guy who was the last out in Don Larsen's perfect World Series game in 1956."
Stockton didn't know it, but by coincidence, the guy who was the last out in the perfect game, Dale Mitchell, is a member of Southern Hills Country Club, where the 77th U.S. Open will start Thursday, and also is head of the Hospitality Committee. Mitchell was called out on strikes as a pinch hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the New York Yankees' Larsen at Yankee Stadium that memorable afternoon.
"It was like participating in a perfect game at that," Stockton continued. "The funny part of it all was that I gave Geiberger a putting lesson two weeks before that tournament. The lesson I gave Geiberger was on bent grass greens. Memphis has Bermuda greens and Al was knocking them in from all over - anywhere from 10 to 60 feet.
"I had a 75 and didn't make the cut. I lost 16 strokes to Geiberger in one round. That never happened to me before in my life.
Stockton rates as one of the favorites here because it was at Southern Hills in 1970 that he won his first PGA championship, which he followed with another title last year at Congressional.
George Burns, the former University of Maryland golf captain, had a tuneup round today and, like the other players, raved about the lush condition of the course despite the soaring heat. The temperature hit 90 here today.
Few golfters admitted to any score today. They said they were simply playing shots for position and experimenting.