MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- All day long, it took bites out of the best players in the world. It chomped on first-round co-leader John Daly's chances in the 79th PGA Championship, nibbled at Davis Love III and spit defending champion Mark Brooks right out of the tournament after two rounds.
Maybe Winged Foot wasn't as diabolical as it was during the 1974 U.S. Open, when a New York columnist dubbed the place "Stubbed Toe", or even as nasty as it was for the Open 10 years later. But it certainly wasn't as benign as it had been in Thursday's opening round.
Nobody was immune, not even the player who would emerge with the 36-hole lead.
Seemingly oblivious to the disasters coming down around him, and on the verge of breaking the course record, Lee Janzen bogeyed the last two holes last night for a 3-under par 67, a two-round total of 4-under 136 and a one-shot lead over Love going into the weekend.
Despite losing two shots off his lead and missing a chance at the record -- a 4-under 66, set by Fuzzy Zoeller in the second round of the 1984 Open and equaled Thursday by Daly and Love -- Janzen figured he had come out ahead.
"It would have been nice to birdie them, but they were tough holes," said Janzen, the 1993 U.S. Open champion and noted fan of his former hometown Baltimore Orioles from the six years he spent growing up in Westminster. "I'm still on top of the leader board. I bogeyed the last hole [Thursday] and it didn't bother me today."
The leader board looked like a billboard previewing this year's U.S. Ryder Cup team. Among the seven players at 2-under 138 were two who have already qualified, Phil Mickelson and British Open champion Justin Leonard, along with hopefuls Jeff Maggert and Fred Couples.
Six players, including Daly, Ryder Cup captain and former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite, two-time British Open champion Greg Norman and Paul Stankowski, were three shots behind. Five were at even-par 140, including Masters champion Tiger Woods, former PGA and U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart and David Duval.
"I left a lot of shots out there," Woods said after his second straight 70. "I need to give myself chances and the ball will start going in."
Ever since he made the turn Thursday at 3-over par, the ball has been going in for Janzen. Considered one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, the 32-year-old made six birdies on the back nine in the opening round, and five in the first 10 holes yesterday.
Janzen stumbled a bit when he missed a chance to go to 7-under by pulling a 6-footer for birdie past the hole on the par-5 12th, then made bogey after his tee shot found the heavy collar rough left of the green on the par-3 13th. A birdie at the par-4 15th put him at 6-under before the closing two bogeys, both the result of sprayed drives.
"I've just got to accept it," Janzen said. "There were a couple of bogeys. Now they've still got to shoot a better score than I do over the next two days. The tournament's far from over, so I'm not going to worry about those two bogeys right now. I've got to get in a good frame of mind and play my best tomorrow."
Janzen's mind set is certainly better than it was two years ago in the PGA Championship at Riviera. There, he needed to finish in fifth place to solidify his spot on the 1995 Ryder Cup team. After an opening round of 5-under 66, he wound up tied for 23rd at 6-under par.
Here it is simple.
"There's only one way I think I can make the Ryder Cup team, and that's to win," said Janzen, who is currently 24th on the points list and still would need Love and Maggert to finish out of the top 10 here. "I think that's somewhat of a good position. I've got nothing to lose. At Riviera, I was thinking about where I had to finish and it was kind of ridiculous. I should just go out and play to win. That's what you should do every week." While this has been a terrific week for those still with a chance to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team, it has been a horrible one for most of those hoping to represent Europe at Valderrama next month. Except for Italy's Costantino Rocca, who is in the group at 2-under, the biggest names among the foreign players are either out of contention or out of the tournament.
Three-time British Open and Masters champion Nick Faldo continued his summer-long slump by missing the cut, which was made at 6-over 146, by seven shots. Former Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, who has made a remarkable comeback this year from a career-threatening foot injury, was only one shot better. Former Masters champion Ian Woosnam of Wales also missed the cut.
"This golf course is such a good test of golf and it will find you if you are not playing well," said Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, who made the cut after a second-round 71 put him at 5-over 145. "It found me and a number of other players out."
It found U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, who narrowly made the cut at 146 after a second-round 76. It certainly found Brooks. Defending his first major championship, Brooks followed an opening-round 70 with a 79.
It found Jack Nicklaus. The man who shares the record of five PGA Championships missed his first cut at a major this year after rounds of 74 and 76.
"I played lousy," said Nicklaus. "I felt like it was going to be a tough golf course for me. It was too long for me. I'm disappointed."
Eventually, it found Daly.
After he played the front nine in 1-under 34 to go to 5-under, Daly gave everything back and more with six bogeys on the back nine. Considering the weekend's weather forecast -- hot and humid, with temperatures reaching the 90s by tomorrow -- it seems as if Daly will have trouble repeating his magic from Crooked Stick six years ago or St. Andrews two years ago.
"If you told me I'd be one under after two days, I'd have taken that," Daly said. "If I can have a miracle on the weekend, it'd be great."
It won't take a miracle for Janzen to win at Winged Foot, considering his greatest success came at Baltusrol, a New Jersey course that was also designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast. It will just take whatever Janzen has been doing since he made the turn Friday, trying to keep this treacherous course from opening its mouth.
Lee Janzen 69-67-136
and selected followers
Davis Love III 66-71-137
Phil Mickelson 69-69-138
Fred Couples 71-67-138
Justin Leonard 68-70-138
Tom Kite 68-71-139
Greg Norman 68-71-139
Vijay Singh 73-66-139
Tiger Woods 70-70-140
Ernie Els 70-76-146
Jack Nicklaus 74-76-150
Nick Faldo 75-78-153
Pub Date: 8/16/97