BIRMINGHAM, AUG. 10 -- Tempers are running short at the PGA Championship. The near impossible conditions at Shoal Creek tried the patience of the mild and moody alike.
Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros each buried irons in the fairways out of frustration in Thursday's first round, stabbing their clubs savagely into the turf. Jay Don Blake withdrew today after 10 holes and a score of 42 on the front nine in addition to his opening round of 77. And Scott Verplank confronted a heckling spectator.
Verplank had his fit of temper as he was in the process of double-bogeying the par-5 17th hole Thursday. He had taken six shots to get out of the woods and into the fairway just in the front of the green, and was checking the yardage to the flagstick when someone in the gallery yelled impatiently, "Hit the ball!"
Verplank wheeled around and strode over to the ropes. "Who said it?" he demanded. "Who's the guy with the big mouth?" Nobody owned up. "Tell him I'll meet him at 18," Verplank told the crowd.
Later he said, "One guy made the whole crowd look like jerks. It took me five shots to get where I was, and I wasn't going to hit another one without knowing what I was doing."
All Quite Fuzzy
Fuzzy Zoeller is always good for an outrageous comment or two. He had several this afternoon after his round of 71 for 1-under 143. First he discussed his private airplane, which he acquired to get from tournaments to his home more easily. "An airplane is like a wife," he said. "Damned expensive."
Zoeller does not fly the plane. Rather he hires somebody to do it for him. "They have people who specialize in that," he said, wryly. "For a few zeroes, you can get somebody to do it for you."
Zoeller doesn't remember much about the 1984 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek. On the Monday before the tournament his back went out as he was shaving and he ended up in the hospital. "I spent the next four days on morphine," he said.
Floyd Is Par None
Raymond Floyd played his first 12 holes without a par en route to a 77. Greg Norman made only two pars on the front nine, coupled with stretches like the third and fourth holes, where he went eagle-birdie on his way to a 69. . . .
Fred Couples is one of the longer hitters on the golf tour, but not the most accurate. So when he hit every fairway off the tee in Thursday's first round, he compared it to "Michael Jordan making every free throw for a year." . . .
Mike Reid picked Nick Faldo of Great Britain to win the PGA, but not just because Faldo has won two of the three previous major championships this season. "He's got to be the favorite," Reid said. "We're in Birmingham, Leeds is not too far away and neither is Oxford." . . .
The low scores from among the 40 club pros in the field was 72-77 by Cary Hungate of the American Legion Club in Kokomo, Ind.