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Clampett's dream goes on

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The U.S. Open truly is open. Bobby Clampett proved it again during the first round at Pebble Beach.

An infrequent competitor known more for his analyst role on CBS-TV golf telecasts, Clampett qualified for his first U.S. Open since 1986. The fairy tale didn't end there.

Clampett, who grew up in nearby Monterey, was on the leaderboard for most of the first round Thursday and finished with 3-under 68, three shots behind leader Tiger Woods. It is Clampett's first professional tournament in 21 months.

"I had absolutely no expectations at all," said Clampett, 40, who finished third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at the 1982 Open at Pebble when he was 22 years old. "This is purely a gift from God just even being here and playing in this championship.

"And then to play as well as I did today, especially the first 10 holes, it was almost like playing golf in heaven -- hitting every fairway and every green."

Clampett retired from competitive golf in 1995 with one PGA Tour victory and went to work for CBS-TV full-time. Before this week, he had played one round at Pebble Beach in the past five years.

To make it here, Clampett endured local and sectional qualifying, and only got into the sectional as an alternate.

BLOWUP: New year, same story. John Daly couldn't make it through another U.S. Open round without falling apart. This time, the two-time major championship winner made 9-over 14 at the 18th hole. His score included four penalty shots, one for hitting his drive out of bounds and three for hitting shots into the water.

It is the third time in the past four U.S. Opens that Daly has made unflattering news. Three years ago at Congressional, he quit midway through the second round, leaving the course without telling his playing partners.

During last year's final round at Pinehurst No. 2, Daly made 11 on the eighth hole. Part of that score included a penalty for hitting a moving ball.

Daly ripped the United States Golf Association for its setup of the course, later apologized, and vowed to have a better attitude this year.

But after his blowup, Daly withdrew.

"He was playing well," said Rocco Mediate, who played in Daly's group. "I just don't know what to say. He's got so much talent. If he only believed in himself."

Daly's 14 was not the highest score on any hole in Open history. That (dis)honor is held by Ray Ainsley, who made 19 on the par-4 16th at Cherry Hills Country Club in 1938.

PLEASING PARTNERSHIP: David Gossett got to play with Nicklaus during the final round of this year's Masters. Now the reigning U.S. Amateur champion is playing with the Golden Bear during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open.

"It's pretty special, at 21 years old," said Gossett, who won the Amateur last summer at Pebble Beach. "I'm very pleased to be playing with Mr. Nicklaus."

The U.S. Open typically pairs the Amateur champion with the reigning U.S. Open and British Open champions for the first round. Nicklaus, who is playing in his 44th consecutive Open, was chosen to take the spot of the late Payne Stewart.

CHIP SHOTS: Hal Sutton got off to a great start, holing an 8-iron from 146 yards at the first hole for an eagle. It was the first time the 381-yard par-4 has been eagled in four U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach. Sutton finished with 69. ... In honor of Stewart, Sergio Garcia wore knickers during the first round. But there was no karma. Garcia shot 75. He was the only one in knickers. "I don't know if they felt embarrassed or something," Garcia said of the other golfers. "I guess it shows the kind of people they are." ... Corey Pavin entered the first round having been unable to break par at the U.S. Open since he won the tournament in 1995. ... Starting times were delayed for a half hour, beginning with the 12:20 tee time because of a backup at the par-3 fifth hole. The round was again delayed at 3:56 p.m. due to heavy fog.

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