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To be eligible for the club pro, a player must be a PGA member and not have played in more than 12 tour events in the previous year. Thus there were such diverse entries as Dow Finsterwald, who was once a name on the circuit and now is at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and a candidate for treasurer of the PGA. Also on hand was Jim King, who is best remembered for the trouble he had several years ago with a double bogey and a PGA official on the same hole; he took an interlocking grip on the neck of the official after the official told him he was playing too slowly. King was suspended from the tour and got a club job in Orlando, Fla., where, he says, "I try to play not more than once a day." And at his own pace. At Callaway Gardens, both golfers made the 54-hole cut, although neither challenged for the lead.
To stay up there at Callaway Gardens, a player has to be consistent because the tournament is played over three courses, none of which have much in common except for their last name. The Mountain View and Gardens View layouts play to a par of 72, while the shorter and infinitely more constricted Lake View has a par of 70 and is considered a lollipop. The idea is to make your score on the Lake, pick up what you can at the Gardens and hold on at the treacherous Mountain, where the qualifiers gather for the final round Sunday.
Because the tournament is played during the resort's off-season and gets what might gently be termed minimal publicity, there is no need for gallery ropes. The biggest audience each day occurs when the pros gather around the scoreboard to determine their positions.
For a time on Saturday, Larry Ringer was enjoying the view. He was leading the tournament, which was rather remarkable because he has a bad back and in a round will occasionally grab on to a tree limb and hang from it. Still, he had shot 69-67-70—206, eight under par. Ringer is the club pro at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He quit the tour in 1975 after two years of "no fun." No fun is never finishing higher than 16th.
Ringer's advantage was fashioned by virtue of his remarkable mastery of the Mountain course on Friday when he made seven birdies, usually a week's work for him. Asked if he felt any pressure in going for the $17,000 first prize, Ringer said, "If I win here tomorrow, it will double my salary. I felt the pressure all day." I feel it right now."
But by day's end, Ringer had dropped back to third as Jim Ferree and Jay Overton both came in with sub-par rounds. Ferree is a transplanted North Carolinian now living in Pittsburgh who speaks in the cadences normally associated with a Southern plantation owner. He had a 68 on Lake View for 204, while Overton, a former small-college champion, came out of nowhere with a 67 on the Mountain course for 205.
Ferree's performance made a prophet out of Roger Watson, who a day earlier had figured out that " Lord Jim" was actually leading the tournament because he already had played the Mountain course while those ahead of him had not. In fact, of the top 11 after Friday's round, seven had not played the Mountain course. On Saturday none of them shot better than 72, and one, Bob Leaver, who led after two rounds, fell to a 77.
Although Ferree won four tour events during his vagabond years, his explosive putting stroke made his traveling companion, a spaniel named Blue, howl with anguish. During the first two rounds at Callaway Gardens, Ferree was predictably perfect from tee to green, creasing the hard fairways with what he called "my line drives. They roll a lot." He made only two bogeys, both when his putter misfired, and spent most of his time explaining, in his gentle Southern tones, why he was playing so well.
Saturday, on the Lake View course, Ferree meandered through the first nine holes, looking over his shoulder at the scoreboard, and made the turn in even par, then bagged three birdies before running into another three-putt green on the last hole.