Ben Crenshaw opened up a three-stroke lead in the World Series of Golf on Thursday with a 6-under-par 64 while U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange struggled to 76 and may have to withdraw with a stiff neck.
"I'll wait until morning to decide if I'm going to play," Strange said. "Right now, I'd say probably not."Crenshaw holed three shots from the green, playing a 45-50 foot sand shot on the fourth hole that "ran in the hole like a putt."
"I'm very fortunate, no question about it," Crenshaw said. "Some really nice things happened to me today."
On the 14th, he holed out a 30-yard wedge shot and on the 10th made a 35-foot putt from the fringe.
In all, the man recognized as one of golf's greatest putters, used only 20 strokes on the greens of the long, difficult Firestone Country Club course.
Jodie Mudd birdied two of his last three holes for a three-under-par 67 that left him alone in second.
Defending champion Mike Reid birdied his first three holes and finished with a 68.
The only others to break par 70 were veteran John Mahaffey, Billy Glasson and Ken Green, tied at 69.
At Buford, Ga., Betsy King, the leading player on the LPGA Tour this year, birdied the final hole with a 25-foot putt for a 6-under-par 66 and a share of the first-round lead with defending champion Rosie Jones in the World Championship of Women's Golf.
King, winner of five events this season, and Jones, winless in 1989, were the first twosome to complete play in this select international field of 16 golfers chasing a first prize of $83,500 from the $265,000 purse.
King, who already has won a single-season record $525,957, complained of playing poorly coming into this event, finishing 10th and 13th in her last two starts.
At Ardmore, Pa., Ted Himka survived an early-morning playoff to earn the next-to-last place in the 64-man field, then went on to upset second-seeded Phil Mickelson in the first round of match play at the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship.
Himka, who just graduated from the University of Washington, beat Mickelson, the 1989 NCAA champion from Arizona State, 4 and 2 on the par-70, 6,523-yard Merion Golf Club.
Earlier, top-seeded Eoghan O'Connell survived a scare from 64th and lowest seed Tim Jackson.
O'Connell, a Britain-Ireland Walker Cup player, beat Jackson, a 30-year-old accountant from Memphis, Tenn., 1-up, shooting a 7-over par 77.
John Grace, a 41-year-old owner of a real estate company in Fort Worth, Texas, ousted Neil Roderrick, 23, a Britain-Ireland Walker Cup player, 3 and 2.
Danny Yates, 39, a losing finalist in the torunament last year, defeated Buddy Alexander, the golf coach at the University of Florida and 1986 national amateur champion.
The field was reduced to 32 for Friday's 36 holes, with the quarterfinals and semifinals Saturday and a 36-hole final Sunday.