The fans at the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club had to pinch themselves twice yesterday to assure themselves that what they were seeing was real.
Isao Aoki of Japan, reputed to be the best putter in the world, four-putted in a hole, from 12 feet away. Aoki hit his approach shot into a bunker on the par-4 fifth hole and blasted the out, 12 feet from the hole. His first putt missed and rolled three feet past the cup. His next effort again slid three past, and his third putt also failed to drop. Aoki finally tapped in a one-foot putt for a triple-bogey 7 and went on to shoot 74.
But that was not all. Former Kemper champion Dale Douglass teed off the first hole with his putter because his caddy mistakenly took his bagful of clubs to the 10th tee. Douglass hit his putter tee shot 150 yards down the middle but he failed to reach the par 4 hole in two shots and took bogey.
"that is the same putter I've used for 15 years. I didn't want to break it. It didn't swing as hard as I could have," said Douglass, who has played in every Kemper Open.
Had Douglass delayed hitting his opening shot he would have been penalized two strokes. If he had not hit before his playing partners struck their second shots to the green he would have been disqualified.
Woody FitzHugh of Great Falls and former Langston pro Al Green led the 10 local golfers with 72s. Green could have been much better but took a triple-bogey 6 on the second hole. FitzHugh was upset after three-putting his final hole, the difficult 602-yard, par-5 ninth. He had himself up well on the hole with a long drive and fine two-iron that left him a clear approach shot, but he hit his eight-iron shot thin and the ball stopped 40 feet of the cup, from where he took three putts.
"I almost had a really good round but I let it get away," said FitzHugh, who played last year on the PGA tour and owns a soon-to-be-opened driving range near Tysons Corner.
FitzHugh started on the back nine and chipped in for birdie on the 11th hole. He bogeyed his fifth hole to get back to even par and stayed that way until he hit an approach shot into the sand trap on his 14th hole and took bogey.
Lee Elder suffered three straight bogeys on the back nine but birdied the 17th hole and finished at 73.