After the first round, in which nine players broke par and 10 others equaled it, Jack Nicklaus predicted Oak Hill Country Club's East Course would get its revenge before the 62nd PGA Championship ends Sunday.
This lush, long, tight golf course with subtle greens did just that today, helped greatly by three of the four controversial holes that were redesigned or rebuilt on this classic course that has hosted two U.S. Opens. r
By the time the double, triple and quadruple bogeys came to a halt, only Gil Morgan among the nine first-round par-breakers had survived Hitting 14 greens in regulation, he played the final eight holes in three under to finish with par 70 and a 138 total for a one-stroke lead going into Saturday's third round.
The only other players under par for 36 holes were Nicklaus, whose nine one-putt greens represented a return to the stroke that brought him his fourth U.S. Open title in June, and Lon Hinkle, whose strength helps him negotiate the deep rough. Each shot 69 today for 139, a stroke ahead of Curtis Strange (68-72).
Other than Nicklaus and Hinkle, only Ed Sneed (80-68 -- 148) managed a sub-par round today.
The cutoff score for the final 36 holes was 149, a total matched by Tom Watson, whose putting woes continued as he added 74 to his opening 75. Of the three pretournament favorites, Watson's chances have vanished, Lee Trevino is on the fringe after birdies on three of the final five holes for 74-71 -- 145, and Nicklaus now is the favorite if he straigthens out his iron and wood shots that went awry today.
Watson's demise here was slow torture, unlike the sudden blow-ups by six of the nine Thursday par-breakers, including first-round leader Craig Stadler (67-75 -- 142).
They all made at least one double bogey or worse, and all but one of those nightmares occurred at one of the holes revamped by the Fazios, George and Tom. Jack Hoff, the tournament chairman, explained earlier that the club wanted holes with double or triple-bogey potential.
He forgot to mention quadruple, but that's what Howard Twitty (68-74 -- 142) made on the most controversial of the Fazio holes, the 419-yard, dogleg right with water, water everywhere. It is a hole that has yielded 20 birdies in two rounds and 40 scores of double bogey or worse.
Twitty, the tour's hottest player the past month, hit a slightly short drive on the hole. He even played left, away from the water at the dogleg.
"It was about 10 yards short of where a good drive would be," he said. "I needed to slice the ball 15 yards to get around the tree."
Hitting a seven-iron, Twitty started his slice to the right -- and the ball hit the tree. He had no shot to the green, also guarded by water, so he wedged up short of the hazard. His wedge approach buried itself in the bank of the hazard.
His fifth stroke was a penalty shot. His sixth, another wedge approach, reached the green safely and he two-putted for the 8. Otherwise, he was two under par for his other 35 holes.
"You make a big number here, you can't recover from it on a course like this," he said. "There are no birdie holes. You have to play a hole really well to make a birdie."
David Graham, the defending champion, made a triple-bogey 6 at the 175-yard sixth hole, another water-strewn Fazio design, on the way to 69-75--144. His iron tee shot found water. He then pitched into deep rough just off the green, chipped up and two-putted.
Strange was leading the tournament at two under when his tee shot carried over and to the left of the 15th green, a position from which Watson said only God can get up and down for 3. The fear here is chipping too boldly and running off the green into Fazio's lake on the right.
He was no more than 10 yards off the green, the ball sitting up in tall grass. He wanted to pop the ball up, hit in the rough on level ground and let the slope carry the ball to the fringe. His sand-wedge shot fell a foot short of that target and the ball remained in deep rough.
Then he clipped within six feet but failed to save bogey.
"Every par 3 Fazio's-designed has a man-made lake on the right," groused Ben Crenshaw (69-74 -- 143), who drove into a creek and made double bogey on the seventh hole when he was one under par early in the day. "Doesn't take too much imagination, does it?"
The other big numbers, among the Thursday par-busters were posted by Bob Murphy (68-80 -- 148), whose downfall was aided by a double bogey at No. 6, and Stadler, who also got his double bogey on No. 6, when he buried his tee shot in a bunker, blasted just off the fringe into deep rough and then missed a short putt.
Stadler, who had eight one-putt greens Thursday, had only three today in a birdie-less round in which he did not strike the ball as well. "I didn't play that bad a round today, he said."There were two or three spots I hit a bad shot and deserved to make bogey or double, and I did."
Also a problem for the strong Walrus was big reading of putts. "I read the greens real well yesterday and made a lot of putts," he said. "I hit them where I wanted to today, but between my caddy and myself, we must have misread eight putts."
Wind and psychological damage were generally the factors cited by the players for higher scoring today.
"The first time you play the course, you're fresh," said Twitty. "Then the course starts to wear you out. Unless there are some radical changes the way they set up the course, over par will win. You don't play better on this course, you survive it. On Open and PGA courses, they seem to take the fun out of golf."
Nicklaus, however, was all smiles after his round late in the day in which he was paired with Morgan and sank a 25-footer on the 18th green for birdie and his ninth one-putt green.
"I came in here yesterday and told you guys I played great and didn't get anything in the hole," said golf's all-time leading money winner ($3.5 million). "Today, I played one of my worst rounds, I hit the ball all over the course and got it in the hole.
"It was one of those days I wasn't very sharp while hitting a golf ball. If I hit it that badly again, I won't score the next two rounds. But I don't think I'll hit it that bad tomorrow."
If the leaders do falter, Trevino has the backing of Washington touring pro Lee Elder, who overclubbed a lot in a 75 that left him tied with Trevino at 145.
"I still think he's the man to beat," said Elder "He keeps the ball in play and the next two days will be real telling."
Oak Hill's revenge is not complete.