Everything was upside down in today's first round of the slap-happy Masters.
Instead of a staid elegance, Augusta National featured slapstick and the improbable.
Tom Weiskopf made history with the worst Masters hole ever: a 10-over-par 13 on the 155-yard 12th hole.
Reliable little Larry Nelson missed a six-inch tap-in. After backing off it once and lining it up twice.
Jack Newton, after six birdies in the first seven holes, then adding an eagle, ended the day so disgusted that he was throwing clubs.
On such a day, it should come as no surprise that the last man on the course, playing with a caddie named Robert Jones, should sink the final putt of the opening round to move into a three-way tie at 66 for the Masters lead.
That sundown hero was next-to-unknown Jeff Mitchell, a 25-year-old from tiny Llano, Tex., who never has had a lesson and taught himself the game with a set of mismatched women's clubs on a nine-hole course in the middle of Texas nowhere.
Who should be deadlocked with Mitchell but two foreigners -- Australian David Graham and Spain's Seve Ballesteros. Masters historians know how bizarre this is: since 1934 only one foreign player, Gary Player, has ever won the Masters.
On a balmy, breezy day, only 18 players broke par. And they weren't the folks who people come to the Masters to gaze upon.
The over-par cast at 73 included Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer, while 74 was the day's most distinguished number since it represented Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Andy Bean, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin and previously red-hot Craig Stadler.
In fact, just about the only happy players at Augusta today were leaders Graham, Ballesteros and Mitchell.
Graham said he was "near perfect." Ballesteros, whose 23rd birthday was Wednesday, was elated at the way a shorter swing was controlling his normally wild drives. And Mitchell, whose only ambition in his first Masters was to "please, God, par the first hole," was in a rapt daze.
The four other players in the 60s all had reason to be miffed. Newton, an Australian, might have tied the course record of 64 if it hadn't been for four bogeys that, he said, "came from nowhere on holes where I was never in trouble." Newton's 68 was matched by Hubert Green, who bogeyed the 18th hole and ended the day so confused that he said, "The wind had me stumped. I used every stalling trick -- throw grass in the air, change clubs, sign autographs. I'd do anything to delay hitting it. Sometimes I just wanted to pass."
Nelson might also have been in that group, but he missed a putt at the 14th that he said was "about six inches, or eight at the most. Shortest putt I ever missed. I backed off it, didn't want to hit it. But I couldn't wait forever for the wind to stop and, sure enough, it just about blew me over as I hit the putt."
Even little Tom Kite, who matched Nelson in sixth place at 69, ended the day grumbling, "I love this course, but I shouldn't be able to play it. It's not suited to my game at all.
"I did so many things right today that I don't know how anybody could be three shots ahead of me," Kite said, laughing. "I think those guys who shot 66 must have cheated."
What the route 66 men did was play almost flawlessly. Graham missed just one fairway and one green. Ballesteros only missed one fairway and commented "usually I only hit one." And Mitchell, whose only teacher is a 30-year-old instruction book by Ben Hogan, sank every putt in sight.
"Winning the PGA has changed me," said Graham, who turned pro at the age of 14 and dropped out of school. "I always played the Masters conservatively because I so much wanted to finish in the top 24 and get invited back the next year.
"Now, with the five-year (PGA) exemption I feel I can attack. The difference in me is not in technique or tactics. It's just something deep inside.
"Winning a major championship is like walking a tightrope. Unitl you've done it all the way once, you'd be a fool not to have your doubts. But once you've made it, you say, 'That was damn tough, but I can do it again if I take one careful step at a time.'"
If it has taken the congenial, universally liked Graham many years to gain confidence, then Ballesteros was born with it. His problem has been reining in his barely mortal gifts.
"I have practiced for three months for this tournament," the handsome Ballesteros said. "My swing is shorter, and easier. I sacrifice 15 yards, though still I am a long hitter."
Ballesteros has eliminated two problems -- golf pros who wanted to dicker with his swing and doctors who wanted to diagnose the pains in his back.
"Doctors are like golfers," Ballesteros said. "They all look at you and find something wrong, but no two find the same thing. Soon, you don't want to see any more doctors or take any more tips."
While Ballesteros has given up doctors of both golf and medical persuasion, he has decided to pay more attention to the PGA tour that he has shunned for European golf.
"In America, I feel a little lonely. I still enjoy very much playing in Europe. You know, before you eat, you must taste. If it is sweet, you eat more. If it is bitter, you push the bowl away. Right now, I am tasting the tour. And I am making up my mind."
Could Ballesteros be the tour's leading money winer, as Player, who shot 71 today, insists?
"Perhaps so," Ballesteros said with a grin.
And is the Augusta National course perfectly suited to the Spaniard's long, high-ball hitting game and his streak putting?
"Yes, I think so," Ballesteros, the British Open champ, said. "Oh, yes, definitely."
The distance from the princely Ballesteros to the humble Mitchell is enormous.
While Ballesteros made his grand speculations, Mitchell said, "I owe everything to my caddie, Cigarette. His real name's Robert Jones, and he's been here a long time."
Golf's two most conspicuous names -- Watson and Nicklaus -- would like to have this day over.Neither could get an iron shot anywhere near the flag and faced brutal, long lag putts all day.