The "Three Musketeers," one observer facetiously dubbed them.

"The Three Mosquitoes is more like it," muttered a member of a group playing behind them. "They were pests, playing that slowly."

Whatever the nomenclature, Bob Impaglia, Robb Pomcrantz and Mark Walach made names for themselves yesterday during the opening round of the U.S. Open. Collectively, they finished 39 over par, playing as the sixth threesome, which may have been some sort of tournament record.

Impaglia had the added distinction of being slapped with the first penalty for slow play in the history of this event.

"I don't know why they (the officials) picked on me. I was the only guy playing pretty good when they told me at the 10th tee I'd been penalized two strokes," Impaglia said later. "I was one over at the time."

The I-P-W threesome required 2 hours 8 minutes for the first nine, 4:08 for the complete round. They dropped more than 30 minutes behind the players directly in front of them and jammed the field badly. Directly to their rear, and waiting most of the day, were Jerry Pate, Ben Crenshaw and Spain's Seve Ballesteros, three of the tourney's leading contenders.

Walach is from Fort Eustis, Va., Impaglia from Auburn, N.Y., and Pomerantz, an amateur, is from Des Moines Iowa. They scored 82, 83 and 87, respectively.

Impaglia was brought to the press tent for a special interview after a USGA official twice had whispered in his ear, "Whatever you do, don't rationalize what happened; don't rationalize it."

Impaglia didn't.

"I love the exposure," the 25-year-old former cocaptain of the Florida State University team declared, "although I wish it was for having done something else.

"My trouble, I guess, was at the ninth hole. That's where they said I took more than four minutes to hit my second shot. Well, I couldn't see the pin. I was running around like a madman out there, trying to spot it. So was my caddy, who I'd sent on ahead.

"I'd pulled out a 7-iron. I was down there in the jungle - in the deep rough - and all I wanted to do was to get past some trees and still stay in the fairway. As it turned out, I was able to chip the next shot up to eight feet and I made the putt for a par."

Which gave Impaglia a 36 on the front nine, one over par.

"Then I was standing on the 10th tee when a gentlemen very politely, very gentlemanly, came up to me and said I'd beenassessed a two-stroke penalty for taking too long."