Shelley Green and Chuck Hofius are leading the Masters.
At least they feel like it.
Okay, so the scoreboard says Bill Kratzert and Ken Green shot 68 today, one shot ahead of Gary Koch and T.C. Chen. Yes, lots of famous folks are among the 16 gentlemen under par: Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Greg Norman at 70 and Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Hubert Green and Corey Pavin at 71.
But this isn't their day. Of course, they'll be back soon enough. You can't get rid of talent.
Also, let's not waste much pity on the millionaires who suffered with swirling winds and ultraswift greens that drove the stroke average up to 75.1. Save the crocodile tears for past champions such as Jack Nicklaus (74), Craig Stadler (74), Ray Floyd (74), Bernhard Langer (74), Gary Player (77) and Arnold Palmer (80). Well, maybe Mac O'Grady (82) could use some sympathy.
The first day of the Masters isn't for history or for the legendary players who make it. It's for memories. Memories for Green's sister Shelley and Kratzert's buddy Hofius who were commandeered into desperation caddy duty and ended up being on center stage on a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
Everywhere those caddies went, the crowds screamed and smote their foreheads in disbelief as 40-, 60- and even 80-foot putts dropped in the hole.
Golly, those caddies for Green and Kratzert sure must know how to read these treacherous, fast Augusta National greens, said the fans.
If they only knew the truth.
Two years ago, Shelley Green was a bookkeeper in Marblehead, Conn. That is when brother Ken, a PGA Tour struggler, begged her to help him save a few bucks by dragging his bag. You know, caddy, sis. She didn't know a wedge from a widget, and still doesn't, but she liked the itinerary -- Hawaii, Carmel Valley, Hilton Head. Now, she's a sort of star.
"I get very emotional out there and, at the Masters, even more," she said. "When he sinks a long putt, I get tears in my eyes. Today, he was making putts I couldn't believe."
Even that's understatement.
"I hit a lot of awful shots today, guys," said Green. "But what can I say. I made about five no-brainers."
Try a 40-footer at the first, an 80-footer from 10 yards in front of the fifth green, a 50-footer at the 16th and, finally, a 35-footer from behind the 18th green. All for birdies. His putts of 5, 12 and 4 feet for birdie at hole Nos. 2, 6 and 13 are hardly worth mentioning.
If you really want to meet someone in a state of disbelief, however, try Hofius. One day ago, he was standing near the first tee when his buddy Kratzert -- known for his temper -- fired the caddy he had feuded with for months.
"Pick up my bag. Let's go," said Kratzert to Hofius.
What could Hofius, a six-handicap who'd never caddied in his life, say? His Masters host had spoken.
Mostly what Hofius said this morning was, "Where should I stand, Bill?" and "Am I in anybody's way?"
Oh, yes. He also said, "Nice putt" about six times, starting at the first hole, where Kratzert drained a 60-footer.
"I putted as well as anyone could putt," said Kratzert. "I just woke up with the good touch today. . . . I'm fortunate . . . because I had the ball on the wrong side of the hole all day."
Hofius didn't know that. He didn't know that Bobby Jones built this place so that if you hit your approach shots to the wrong shelves on the greens, you were supposed to be dead meat. "If we win, they'll have to tear these [white caddy] coveralls off me while I'm running down Washington Road," said Hofius, who sells electronic components in Fort Wayne, Ind.
It's unlikely that Hofius will be called on to show such foot speed.
By Sunday, Kratzert and Green probably will be ancient history.
After all, Ballesteros claims he still is "very pleased" with his game, and Crenshaw, now cured of a thyroid problem that wasted him for a year, says he feels he's playing "every bit as good as in '84" when he won here.
If that's not enough bad news for our hardy underdogs, Watson claims he's suddenly found his old putting touch and scrambling style. "That's what I've needed to do and haven't been able to do for a long time," he said after nine one-putt greens. "Somebody wrote me a letter and said, 'Go read your own book, page 55, second paragraph.' And he was right. You have to make a slow, deliberate change of direction at the end of the backswing."
Just because 11 holders of major titles, including Fuzzy Zoeller (73), Larry Nelson (73) and Johnny Miller (74), are within six shots of the lead doesn't mean Kratzert and Green can be denied their hour. Not after what they've been through to get here.
"I don't like to look back at what happened to me," said Kratzert, who had been in the money list's top 12 three times before he fell to 139 in 1982 and 166 in 1983 after wrist injuries. "Lord knows how I made it. The help of friends like John Mahaffey, Leonard Thompson and Gary McCord . . . .
And perhaps Chuck Hofius. Of his sudden transformation here, Hofius said: "One minute I'm drinking scotch in the clubhouse, the next I'm eating chicken salad in the caddy shack."
Lest anyone should view Green as a bland fellow in such company, he began his news conference by saying: "I want to make two things clear. I am not an unknown. Everybody in my family knows me. And I have color. I am not a quiet clone.
"If I say, 'God, the Masters,' I'll certainly choke," said Green. "So, I'm trying to find everything I can to criticize. Like the magnolias. We have trees like that back home. After all I'd heard about them, I thought they'd be 400 feet tall. They're kinda disappointing."
Before Green could tell his whole life story, Watson was solemnly ushered into the room. "Go on. Kick me out," said Green, who prospered despite bogeys at the third and 17th holes. "That's okay . . . . By now I'm used to being the 'other' Green. I played a practice round with Hubert Green yesterday and when we got to the ninth green I heard a fan say, 'Why does Hubert have two caddies?' "
Before long that "other" Green might pass this one, just as those pushy Watsons and Ballesteroses will likely stampede by Kratzert. But for one day they stood atop the poshest mountain in their world. And beside them were a former assistant bookkeeper of a Marblehead machine shop and an electronic component salesman from Fort Wayne