Bill Rogers, the winner of last week's British Open, blamed a bad case of "brain lag" for his slow start as he shot a par 71 opening round in today's Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic at the Kingsmill Golf Course.
"It was a really weird round, not the type of golf I usually play," Rogers said of his play in which he double-bogeyed his first hole (No. 10 because he played the back nine first), then compounded his problems by bogeying the next two holes.
Rogers was able to control his game after that sloppy opening with three birdies following immediately thereupon. "I felt like I was in a battle out there and had already played 22 holes when I was on the 16th hole."
But Robers, a 29-year-old Texan who says he thrives on pressure, remains optimistic about the tournament. "Maybe I got my bad stuff out of the way early," Rogers said.
Leading a field of 156 golfers in the tournament was Bob Gilder, a 30-year-old from Oregon who scored a three-under par 68. Gilder, who ranks 54th on the PGA money list, has not won this season.
Washington's Lee Elder was among a group two shots back.
This is the first year that the Anheuser-Busch Classic has been held at Kingsmill and the overall high scores on opening day indicated that many of the pros were finding the course, with its deep roughs and multitiered greens, a challenge.
"Some of the holes scare you off the tee," said Gilder. "The more you play it the better you know it, but it still can scare you on some of the tee shots."
Defending champion Ben Crenshaw came in at 69 after birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, a double-bogey on the 14th and another birdie on the 15th. Crenshaw agreed with most of his colleagues that many good golfers would succumb to several extremely difficult holes on the first half of the course.
Asked if some of those holes are unfair, Crenshaw said: "Yes, in my opinion they are . . . but don't ask players to critize the course. It's not our job."
In addition to Crenshaw, at 69 were Bob Murphy, Australian Jack Newton, D. A. Weibring, Jim Booros, John McGough and Gavin Levenson. n
The group at 70 includes Elder, Miller Barber, Butch Baird, Dave Eichelberger, Wayne Levi, Jack Renner, Bill Calfee, Don Levin, Bill Britton and Terry Diehl.