Alternate Patton drops out with heat exhaustion U.S. OPEN NOTEBOOK

June 17, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

OAKMONT, Pa. -- When he got the call Wednesday that he had replaced an injured Vijay Singh in the 94th U.S. Open, Chris Patton kept thinking about the 1991 PGA Championship, about the alternate who won the tournament.

About a fellow named John Daly.

"I felt the whole way up here, 'John Daly, John Daly,' " said Patton, who drove from a Nike tour event in Richmond, Va., and arrived at Oakmont in time to play eight practice holes before dark.

If there's going to be another Daly in this year's Open, it won't be Patton. The former U.S. Amateur champion and Clemson star had to with draw after eight more holes yesterday because of heat exhaustion.

A player known more for his weight than his game, Patton had dropped 40 pounds since Christmas, when he weighed 352 pounds. He said he lost 35 of those pounds in the past 35 days after going on a diet.

"I think it's a combination of things," said Patton, who was at par before four-putting the seventh hole for double-bogey, then parred the eighth. "It's my eighth week in a row. I wound up going to bed at around 11:30 last night and didn't sleep too well. I was just dead tired."

Patton was taken to a first-aid unit and given fluids, then released.

By the way, Daly will likely not repeat his Crooked Stick performance. He shot an opening-round 81.

Not Miller's time

While Jack Nicklaus was reviving memories yesterday, another member of his threesome was burying them. After being given an exemption by the USGA because of his victory at Pebble Beach earlier this year, the man who shot a course-record 63 to win the Open here in 1973 didn't quite match that effort.

In fact, Johnny Miller's 63rd shot was his tee shot on the 14th hole. It hit a tree, and Miller went on to an opening-round 81, his highest score in 22 Opens. "Just off the bat, I went 6-4-6, and my thinking was, 'I'm going to have a good time regardless," said Miller, 47, who was playing in his first Open since 1987.

Miller, though, did accomplish his second goal. "I wanted to keep Jack loose and pumped up," he said. "Kind of a legal coach."

Funk shoots 74

Buoyed by an eagle 2 on the 458-yard 10th hole, former University of Maryland coach Fred Funk recovered from a 40 on the front nine to finish with a 3-over-par 74. Funk, who finished tied for seventh last year at Baltusrol, holed out from 197 yards away with a 2-iron. Frank Nobilo, who is at 2-under, also holed out for eagle from that fairway. . . . John Stacey, a former assistant at Congressional Country Club playing in his first Open, shot 78.

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