For the first time in the history of the U.S. Open, two players have won an appeal for having been penalized two strokes for slow play.
The players involved were John Schroeder and Forrest Fezler, who were in the third group off the tee at 7:18 this morning. Schroeder had just shot a 68 for 139, Fezler a 72 for 142. Schroeder is notorious for his slow play, having been penalized once during the Greater Greensboro Open six years ago and having been fined $200 at Houston four years ago after the PGA voted to make slow play cost money instead of strokes.
He also was involved in a controversy last year at the Heritage Classic when Tom Kite, frustrated by Schroeder's slow play, said into a live microphone, "Jeez, why won't Schroeder play?"
Here, under USGA rules, slow play can bring a two-stroke penalty. Today, as Schroeder and Fezler walked off the 18th green, they were informed by USGA official P. J. Boatwright that he was penalizing them two strokes each for falling 20 minutes behind the threesome in front of them.
Schroeder and Fezler immediately made an official protest. That brought in the four-man rules committee led by James R. Hand. The committee met with the two players and playing partner John Brodie (who shot 82), then announced 20 minutes later that it was overruling Boatwright.
"The players told us there were some circumstances which slowed them down and we decided there was enough doubt to rescind the penalties," Hand said. "There were two situations where they had to look for balls that slowed them down considerably."
Those two situations were at 14, where Brodie had trouble finding the ball in the Scotch pines, and at 16, where Fezler found the rock quarry.
Jim Thorpe, the former Falls Church resident who shot 66 to lead after one round, was pleased with his 73 today. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't real nervous," Thorpe said. "I went to bed at about 2 a.m. and got up at 6 to do a TV show (Good Morning America). It was okay getting up because I wasn't sleeping anyway. I was just lying there.
"I feel pretty good about my round. It could have been much worse since I missed about eight or nine greens. I think I'll sleep a lot better tonight."
Lee Elder, in spite of a double-bogey 6 at the relatively simple 11th hole, made the cut with a 74 today, giving him 146 for the tournament.
Reston amateur Wayne DeFrancesco shot his second 75 and failed to qualify for the final 36 holes.