The first day passed with the crowds waiting for something to happen. For a while everyone looked to be two under par, but no one could get any lower. It wound up being Hubert Green's day when he birdied four of the last six holes for a five-under 67, which was one of only three sub-70 rounds. Thursday night Watson stood at two-under, Crenshaw at one-under and Nicklaus at even par. Green's score could have been lower, for he missed a very makable eagle putt at the 15th and a decent birdie try at the 17th hole. "I've geared myself to win a major," he said, and this is what Hubert needs to make himself better known. He has won as many tournaments as Weiskopf, for example, and more than Hale Irwin, for another example, but no one puts him in that category.
Just when it appeared this might be Green's year in Augusta, he met the kind of fate so many players have at the evil 12th hole. He was four under par when he reached there on Friday and still in control. Then he hit a seven-iron over the flag and into a buried lie in a back bunker. Siberia is better than being in a back bunker on Augusta's 12th. Or Cleveland. He exploded out too strongly. The ball raced across the green and into Rae's Creek. He dropped another ball into the bunker and barely got it out, lying four. The fact that he made this 20-foot putt for a double bogey—and was joyous about it—was all to Hubert's credit and a fine display of his competitive nature, but he had made a five on a par-3 hole, and that took him out of the tournament. Watson and Crenshaw were shooting 69s, and Nicklaus 70 to Green's 74.
If there was a locker room favorite other than Nicklaus it was Weiskopf, who had scalded the course in practice. Nonetheless, he began this Masters shakily, struggling for pars on the first few holes. One of them was more shaky than the others. On the 4th hole on Thursday Weiskopf hit a soaring hook that was definitely going to put him in bogey territory, or worse, but it struck a spectator on the head and bounded on the green for a routine three. Thereafter, Weiskopf didn't hit enough heads. He shot 73.
It was on Saturday that Weiskopf began to look and play like the man who had finished second four times in the Masters. Through the 13th hole he was four under par, working on a 68 or something better. He had even briefly tied for the lead when Saturday's leader boards proclaimed a six-way tie for a matter of moments. But then Weiskopf found himself on the dangerous front edge of the 14th green with a 75-foot putt, up the steep part, for a birdie. After his first putt he had a 60-footer for a par. The ball had rolled up and back down the hill so that it now rested on the other side of him. He took roughly five lateral steps to try the next putt. This time he got the ball up on the second level of the green but he was still 12 feet from the cup, putting for a bogey. He missed by three feet. A three-footer is no gimme at Augusta, but Weiskopf made it for his double bogey. Like Green, one hole had taken him out of contention. He never recovered.
In a way it was a terrible epilogue to what had been one of the grandest sights of a spectacular Saturday—Weiskopf on the 13th hole. He had gone for the green in two and found the ravine in front of the green. He had taken off his shoes and socks, put the shoes back on, waded into the water and slashed a wedge shot out of there. He had somehow gouged the ball up onto the green, and he had done it after playing himself into a tie for the lead. The crowds went crazy. And they went still crazier when Weiskopf emptied a gallon of water out of his shoe. He missed the birdie putt, which would have given him sole possession of the lead, but he had bravely saved his par, and he had provided a marvelous dramatic moment—just about the only thing that could draw attention from the afternoon's glamour pairing of rose-colored Watson and candy-striped Crenshaw. "The future of golf pairing," as it was called around the press quarters.
As strange a sight as any came at the day's end. There on the Augusta veranda were those two young women sitting together, giggling, chatting. Polly Crenshaw and Linda Watson. Their husbands were down the hill being interviewed by 4,000 people. Their husbands were tied for the lead at 209. One had to think of other days, of a time when a Ben Hogan and a Byron Nelson might have been in the same situation. Valerie and Louise would have been knitting or sitting in the car. Polly and Linda were laughing and talking, as were their husbands, of how much fun it all was. Crenshaw had shot another 69, and Watson had birdied the last hole for a 70. They had played superbly and could have shot even better. But it was their tournament on Saturday evening, and it was their wives' tournament, too. Now Watson and Crenshaw came up to the veranda.
Tom said Sunday was going to be "a heck of a lot of fun." Ben said Sunday was going to be "a gut buster." They both said they were hungry. Polly said she hoped one of the two would win, and Linda said the same thing. And off they went. Two pretty young girls looking like they ought to be at a college football game, and two handsome, bare-headed young guys in flashy colors looking like the leading men Carole Lombard could never decide between. Just your basic future of golf.
If you can say you knew one of these two dashing characters would win the Masters, you couldn't possibly have known how. That Jack Nicklaus, of all people, would lose to Tom Watson. Of all people.