Rudy Martin, a military attache at the Canadian Embassy, thought he knew a good thing when he saw it. He walked the first hole with George Cadle, watched him make a 20-foot birdie putt and suggested a small wager to his two companions who also work at the embassy.

"I said, 'Let's bet dimes on birdies.' I picked Cadle." When Cadle--34, winner of about $250,000 in eight years on Tour but hardly known outside golf's cognoscenti--birdied three of his first five holes, it appeared to be a terrific bet. Cadle finished among the leaders at 71, but made no more birdies. Playing partners Tommy Valentine and Bruce Fleisher each shot 77, but Valentine had three birdies and Fleisher two.

So much for that good thing.

But the good thing Martin and his two buddies knew for sure was that they wouldn't have to run or jockey for position following this threesome. They were at the 10th tee for the first group at 8 a.m. Cadle's threesome was next.

"A bunch of people took off with the first group," Martin said. "So we said, 'Let's wait.' Except for the big guys on their big days, everybody's big." From watching this group, Martin said he had picked up two playing tips: keeping his hands closer to his body and teeing the ball higher.

Behind the third green, Les Riordan, wearing an Orioles cap, had brought his young son, Greg. They didn't want to watch the big names. "I just don't like crowds," Riordan said. "You can get a better shot of them on TV Saturday and Sunday."

Ralph Allen, who travels with the Tour and posts the results of every round, hole by hole, in the press tent, says things are the same everywhere on the circuit:

"Nobody watches them (the no-names) except their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their wives and girlfriends, and, maybe, a couple of their friends."

One woman was the only steady gallery following Mark O'Meara, Beau Baugh and Bobby Nichols. "I'm Mark O'Meara's wife, Alicia," she said.

This was a long day for her, because O'Meara has been in a month-long putting slump. "You wait for that one round that will turn it around," she said. "Even if it's not Nicklaus, it (the excitement) is the same for me when he shoots a 62. If he's not playing well, it goes much slower."

O'Meara shot 78. For Alicia O'Meara, it went very slowly.