A double-bogey 6 on the final hole of the Kemper Open left Lee Elder drained and dejected. "You really hate to do that on the last hole," the 46-year-old Washington pro said. "If you do it early in the round, you can recover from it."
Still, Elder added a 72 to Saturday's fine round of 67, the best round in his last 43 outings, to finish at 283, tied for 20th. He earned his biggest check of the year, $4,333.34. It was his best finish in two years.
He had just birdied the par-4 17th hole to get back to par after shooting the front nine in two-over 37. On 18, instead of hitting his normal controlled fade off the tee. Elder tried to draw the ball to follow the contour of the fairway, which curves slightly left. His shot stuck trees on the right side of the fairway and the ball bounced deep into the woods. He chipped back onto the fairway and a long iron approach shot landed on the green, 40 feet to the right of the cup. He took three putts from there, in front of a gallery he acknowledged was "pulling for me."
"After I birdied the 17th I was hoping to birdie both the finishing holes like I did Saturday and finish pretty close to the top," Elder said. "But that double bogey really did spoil it for me."
Woody FitzHugh of Great Falls closed with an 81 and finished last of the players who made the cut, with a total of 302. He earned $752.
FitzHugh's problems started Saturday, when he shot 77. He said he swung too hard, trying to keep up with the booming tee shots of playing partner Bruce Douglass. "Mike Holland (another pro) warned me on the practice tee," FitzHugh said. "He said, 'Don't stand too close to Douglass, the updraft from his swing may take your pants off.'"
At about 7:30 Saturday night, Congressional security personnel ran off vandals who had stolen a cart and may have planned to damage the 16th green. "They had a cart and were trying to get on the green," said former Redskin quarterback Ralph Guglielmi, a Congressional member and assistant to the head of security, Tom Ryan.
"When they saw Bill Bryant (the cart master) coming, they jumped out of the cart and went over the fence." Guglielmi added that several people had sneaked into the tournament under a fence near the 16th green. "When we catch them, we have a roll of tickets we take out and offer to sell them one."
Tom Weiskopf said the only thing that stands in the way of John Cook becoming a superstar is short drives. "He's just not the strong," Weiskopf said. "But he might get stronger; that's not a criticism."
The Edwards brothers of Edmond, Okla., second-round leader Danny and younger brother David, were paired for the first time in a regular PGA tour event. They played together in winning the PGA team championship last year at Walt Disney World. "It's nice to play together," said Danny, 29, before teeing off. He added that they would have about the same amount of conversation during the round as would regular partners.
Tom Watson said Congressional is the longest course the pros play, even though a few others, such as Colonial and Fort Worth, exceed it in yardage. What makes Congressional play so long, Watson said, are the several elevated greens that must be approached with high, long iron shots.
Watson raised a few eyebrows when he said the most important tournament was the British Open, which does not always have the strongest field and was passed up by several U.S. pros last year because of exorbitant hotel prices.