Can you top this for a first-day leader board at the Masters?
A pair of colorful, eccentric young stars. The two biggest money winners in history. The current Masters and PGA champions. The coholder of the Masters scoring record. Two famous old Masters champs, combined age 102. And two star-struck, fuzzy-cheeked amateurs.
The gentlemen we speak of are leader-by-a-shot Gary Hallberg (68) and Payne Stewart (69), Tom Watson (69) and Jack Nicklaus (71), Ben Crenshaw (70) and Lee Trevino (70), Ray Floyd (70), Gary Player (71) and Billy Casper (71), John Inman (70) and Sam Randolph (70), respectively.
"Golf has never been healthier," said Trevino. "Look at that board."
If you want up-and-coming new faces, they don't come any flashier than Hallberg, who wears a hip Indiana Jones "Temple of Doom" hat, and Stewart, who affects fire-engine-red knickers. Both also have exotic golf gurus. Hallberg studies with a physics professor who compares his swing to an idealized stick figure; Stewart has 13 acupuncture needles in his ears these days to help him concentrate and fight stress.
If you want immortals, they don't come bigger than Watson and Nicklaus, each of whom staggered at the start, then caught fire after eagles, Watson's at the 13th and Nicklaus' at the 15th.
If you want veteran presence and human interest, then turn to Crenshaw, Trevino and Floyd. Gentle Ben, who was in despair about his game this morning, started making putts from everywhere on the back nine and reached the clubhouse looking like a new man. Floyd, winless and fading since 1982, says he can't hit it any better. And Trevino vows, "No reason I can't win here. My wife has ordered me not to be intimidated."
If you prefer middle-aged miracles, then Player, 49, and Casper, 53, are your men. Neither is very popular among current players and neither has been a Tour factor in the '80s, but they stir hearts and memories here.
Finally, if you applaud the ethic of amateurism embodied by Bobby Jones, who founded this tournament, then you're all atwitter tonight about Randolph and, especially, Inman (brother of pro Joe).
Two other players also were among the 13 who broke par on this windless, sunny, 75-degree day: Scott Simpson and Larry Mize at 71. They're overshadowed by the stars in a logjam at 72: Andy Bean, Seve Ballesteros and Lanny Wadkins.
Three of this week's favorites -- Calvin Peete, Tom Kite and Fred Couples -- put themselves in jeopardy of missing the cut with 75s.
Among the day's disasters on fast greens with almost unfair pin placements were U.S. Open champ Fuzzy Zoeller (77), current No. 1 money-winner Curtis Strange (80) and The Man Himself, Arnold Palmer, who had the worst score in the field with a 39-44 -- 83.
Hallberg and Stewart are two of a kind. Both are stylish, bright and gifted, yet neither has lived up to his early promise. Both want to set themselves apart from the crowd and both admit being victims of pressure.
Hallberg, 26, has one Tour win in six seasons and cashed $187,260 last year. Stewart, 28, has two wins in five years and won $288,795 in '84. Both have reputations for liking stardom more than they like work.
"This course is designed for my game. I like fast greens and I hit a draw," said Hallberg, who had a six-inch tap in for birdie on the first hole and also birdied Nos. 9, 10, 13, 15 and 17 while bogeying Nos. 2 and 12 with three putts. Only one of Hallberg's six birdie putts was longer than a yard.
"I'm in the slot right now and that gives you the confidence you need for a few weeks. I can really go at it hard right now," said Hallberg, who reached both back-nine par-5s with four-iron shots.
"I just want to keep from thinking about winning the Masters, because when you think like that, you can eliminate your chance," said Hallberg, who was fourth at the TPC. "I want to keep my heart rate constant. The hours on the course are the easiest. It's the other 18 hours a day when your mind plays tricks on you . . .
Hallberg wears his trademark floppy hat in part to help him focus. "I'm easily distracted and I kind of hide under that brim . . . Sometimes I seem to hit it better from the trees. Being in trouble makes me visualize the shot better."
Has Hallberg ever met Harrison Ford? "No. But I've hit it in a few places where I've looked for him."
Of all the leaders, Stewart has the extra, deeply felt motivation. His father died three weeks ago after a long siege with cancer. "When I saw him (a few weeks ago), I told him, 'I'm going to win the Masters some year,' " said Stewart. "He said, 'Well, just go on and win it this year' . . .
"My father was so much more intense a competitor than I am. Maybe now that he's gone I'll inherit that from his spirit."
When Stewart needs to refocus his attention, he tugs at his right ear. When he starts to feel stress, he yanks the left. The acupuncture needles in his ears -- he first had the treatments six years ago -- hit nerves and "yeah, it hurts, but it also helps . . . Sometimes I forget they're in there and just slam a phone against my ear."
Fellows named Watson and Nicklaus don't need plus-fours and fedoras to get attention here. Watson seems utterly confident while Nicklaus may be playing a reverse-psychology game with himself.
Watson, who won here in '77 and '81, hopes he's on a four-year cycle. After finishing 1-2-2-12-1-5-4-2 here in the last eight years, his buoyant mood is justified.
After feeling "very good" about his swing and his putting in practice rounds, Watson took the jungle route for 10 holes this afternoon. He missed one par-3 by 80 yards and could have been five over par, rather than just plus-two, when yet another wild drive crashed into the woods at the 10th. When his ball bounced crazily back into the middle of the fairway, Watson went from funk to fury.
A 310-yard drive and birdie at the 11th awoke him, and Watson went through the azaleas by the 13th-14th-15th holes in eagle-birdie-birdie figures. "I suddenly went into high gear and said, 'Well, let's birdie in.' When I have good first rounds, I usually stick close to the lead all week."
History says Fridays have been by far Watson's best Masters days.
Nicklaus, for perhaps the first time, has arrived here laughing and joking, barely acknowledging the huge significance he puts on this event.
"I started making putts today," said Nicklaus. "That's something that hasn't happened in a while . . . I rather enjoyed it . . . I know I'll start hitting the ball better tee to green."
While Watson and Nicklaus tried not to look too far down the line, amateur Inman, 22, couldn't restrain his joy after a believe-it-or-not round with 13 one-putt greens.
"I won't have any problems sleeping. Nobody's gonna shoot ya if you play bad," said the '84 NCAA champion.
Asked if he could win the Masters, Inman said, "I wouldn't rule that out."