Gene Littler, still bogey-free after 36 holes at Pebble Beach, fired a three-under-par 69 today and stretched his lead to two strokes in the second round of the PGA national championship.
Littler, 47, completed 36 holes in 136, an impressive eight strokes below par for his two slow-paced strolls over the 6,806-yard Pebble Beach Golf Links that winds along the rocky cliffs and crags of Carmel Bay. Jerry McGee was in second place with 138 after a 70 today.
Jack Nicklaus, seeking a record-tying fifth PGA championship, had a 71 today for a 140 total.
Lanny Wadkins, former National Amateur champion from North Carolina who is making a comeback after a two-year slump, was at 140, a stoke better than Charles Coody, Tom Watson and Al Geiberger.
The chances of Washington golfer Lee Elder making the cut appeared slim. He had a disastrous triple-bogey 7 on the third hole and finished with 78 for a 153 total. Larry Ringer, Naval Academy pro, had a 74 for a 151 total.
For the first time in its 59 years, the PGA announced that the survivors of today's cut (the low 70 and ties) would tee off on both the first and 10th tees Saturday and Sunday. The entire field, in the past, has always gone off the first tee.
The official reason given was that a split start would allow the players later starting times and "will facilitate televising this major championship to Eastern time zones." ABC-TV faced a problem televising the PGA to the East because of the three-hour time difference.
If the usual schedule had been followed, the live broadcast in the East would have been from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday, cutting into prime time. Now, the East will see the telecast live from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
McGee, 34, said he planned this tournament as "a second honeymoon. This is my wife's favorite spot. She came out here and left our little boy, Michael, 2, at home. Suddenly, I find myself in contention. My record at Pebble Beach has not been good. I've never enjoyed the weather at the Crosby (played in January). My wife, Jill, is an avid golfer and she enjoys the beauty of this area. But the Lady (the Pebble Beach course) has been asleep. Things could get tougher when she wakes up."
McGee, as were most of the golfers, was talking about the lack of wind and the fine green. Even the fair ways, despite the drought and lack of watering, haven't presented that many problems. Coody, who had a 71 today to go with Thursday's 70, commented, "If the wind stays down, we could see a final score of from eight to 12 under par."
McGee started the day at four under and went to six under when he put a four-wood shot eight feet away eagled the par-five second hole. He and made it for a three. He holed out a 17-foot putt on the fifth for a birdie but bogeyed the seventh and ninth. He sank a 25-footer for a birdie on the 10th and parred in.
Wadkins said he "played two different rounds of golf today. I played well on the front side and didn't make any putts. On the back nine, I hit it awful but my putter saved me."
Wadkins birdied the first hole from four feet and the seventh when he almost holed out with a pitching wedge. The ball stopped two inches from the cup. But he bogeyed the eighth when he three-putted.
On the back nine, he bogeyed the 12th when he missed the green, then birdied the 15th from 25 feet and the 16th from 20 feet. But he double bogeyed the short 17th when his drive went over the green and into a hazard. His second shot flew out and into the ocean. He was on in four and sank an eight-footer for his double bogey. He finished with a four-foot birdie.
Watson, still fiddling with an assortment of borrowed clubs, was out in 36 and back in 37 for '73. Thursday, he borrowed a set of Tommy Armour irons from fellow pro Roger Maltbie. He didn't like the one and two irons, but found an old one iron of his own and borrowed a two iron from Hubie Green.
Watson had two sets of irons declared illegal. He was having another set flown in from the Ram factory in Chicago but was undecided if he would use the new clubs Saturday.
The Masters and British Open champion had a good round going until he double bogeyed the 402-yard, par-four 16th hole. His second shot, a seven-iron, was short.He chipped to six feet and three-putted there, missing an 18-incher.
"I just had a mental lapse," he said. "I threw a stroke away and I can't get it back."
Elder bogeyed the first hole when he missed a two-foot put. He hit a tree on his drive on the fourth hole and hits another tree with his second shot. The ball bounced into a bunker. He sailed his third shot over the green into another bunker, was on in five and two-putted. He missed three other putts from under five feet.
"It (the weather) was too cool for me," he said. "I can't swing with a sweater on. The pins are in tricky places but then, when a man makes a triple bogey, he has no excuses. Maybe I can't play the major courses. Sometimes I think I'll be through with all major courses except the Masters."