Hal Sutton, who says he is "hitting the ball as well as I've ever hit it in my life," birdied the first three holes, eagled the 15th and shot 65 for a 36-hole total of 132 to take a six-stroke lead at the halfway point of the $350,000 Anheuser-Busch Classic today at Kingsmill.
Sutton, 25, the leading money winner on the PGA Tour, has not yet taken bogey and his longest par putt has been four feet. Using a new putter that he bought here for $70, he missed a 2 1/2-foot birdie putt at the 13th hole and a total of four putts of 15 feet or less, but was not disappointed with his play on the greens. However, he said, his opening-round 67 "could have been 62" if he had putted well.
"This is a good golf course for me; kind of where I got my start last year," he said. Sutton's tie for third here last year earned him $20,400 and he went on to break the rookie earnings record with $237,434. He has made $514,818 in less than two years on tour; first prize here is $63,000.
Sutton's score plummeted with the temperature today. After an opening round in 100-degree heat, he started today in cool morning breezes with three straight birdies. He hit a seven-iron approach and holed a 10-foot putt at the 360-yard, par-4 opening hole. He laced a one-iron 10 feet from the hole at the par-3 second hole for his second bird and wedged to 30 feet and made the putt for his third birdie at the par-5 third hole.
After eight straight pars, he sank a 12-foot putt at the 12th hole for his fourth birdie. At the 505 yard, par-5 15th hole, Sutton struck a three-iron second shot and the ball stopped five feet from the cup. He sank the putt for eagle 3, then parred in.
Scott Simpson, who led by two strokes after a first-round 64 that tied Curtis Strange's course record, shot 74 and is tied for second at 138 with Jodie Mudd (67) and Mark O'Meara (69). Ray Floyd (71), Pat McGowan (72), Mike Sullivan (67) and Tom Weiskopf (73) are next at 139.
Simpson played the back nine first and opened with four straight bogeys. He fought back with four birdies, but ran afoul of the difficult par-4, 413-yard eighth hole (his 17th) and double-bogeyed.
"The course played tougher today, but not 10 strokes tougher," said Simpson, who lost out in a five-man playoff in the Kemper Open at Congressional.
Calvin Peete, who made only one bogey in winning last year, bogeyed his opening hole today and double-bogeyed his ninth, finished at 75, and is tied for 14th with 10 other players at 141.
Peete hit a perfect drive on his ninth hole (the par-4 18th), but pulled his second shot to the left of the green. He chipped his third shot onto the green, but the ball was on the top tier of the two-level green. He hit his first putt down the slope but short of the hole, and missed the four-footer and made 6.
Sammy Rachels, who started the day two shots off the lead after an opening 66, bogeyed the first two holes today and withdrew with an ailing back. He had ridden a motorcycle here from Toledo, Ohio, after his motor home broke down.
Lee Elder was the only Washington-area player to make the cut of 147 at 74--146. Other area scores were Tony DeLuca, 74--149; Mike Wynn, 80--151 and Woody FitzHugh, 79--159.
Following a study to improve a growing slow-play problem, a new set of PGA guidelines were instituted beginning with this tournament. The announcement, made last Friday, imposes stiffer penalties and redefines what slow play is. No players have been penalized yet.
Under the new guidelines, on-course officials will inform players deemed "out of position"--if they are averaging more than 14 minutes per hole--that they are being timed. If a player being timed takes more than 45 seconds to play a shot on four occasions, he will be fined $500. For four more violations, he will be fined an additional $1,000. If two more violations occur, he will be given a two-stroke penalty. And if two more violations occur in the same round, he will be disqualified.
The regulations also provide that a player can be subject to a suspension if, over a period of several tournaments, he continues to be in violation of pace of play guidelines.
The slow-play issue was brought into focus on the final round of the Kemper Open when the final group of Simpson, T.C. Chen and winner Fred Couples finished nearly an hour after the group in front of them.