Charles sets Senior Open mark with 6-under start Woodmoor's Ringer finishes with 73

July 05, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- Bob Charles, one of the dominating players of the PGA Senior Tour for the past 11 years, turned in a record-smashing performance on the first day of the 17th annual U.S. Senior Open at historic Canterbury Golf Club yesterday.

New Zealander Charles, rated by many the most successful left-hander in professional golf history with 46 titles worldwide, carved up the tree-lined, 6,765-yard course with a 6-under-par 34-32--66.

The bogey-free tour left the rest of the field in his wake. Australian Graham Marsh, with 58 victories on five international tours, came the closest with 36-33--69.

By day's end, only eight in the 156-player field had broken par (72), and all but two were morning starters. On a sunny but cool day, a morning north wind blew at 15 mph, but it diminished and turned swirling by afternoon.

Charles' 6-under total is the lowest first-round, under-par score in tournament history, and his three-shot cushion is the largest 18-hole lead. Five others have shot 66, but on par-71 courses.

Larry Ringer, head professional at the CC of Woodmore in Mitchellville, Md., was a first-round co-leader a year ago at Congressional CC, and had that target in his sights again when he became the only player besides Charles to get to 4-under par.

That was through 11 holes, however, and he bogeyed five of the last seven to finish 34-39--73.

"Today was pretty much a perfect round of golf," said Charles.

"It is as solid a round of golf as I have played in a long time -- good ball-striking and good putting." The figures bore him out. He missed only three fairways and three greens, and ended with 28 putts. He was one of only three to birdie the 218-yard 17th.

Charles, 60, and backed by one major title, the 1963 British Open, ran in putts from 15 to 35 feet for his birdies. For the year, he has had eight top-10 tour finishes including a playoff loss to Jim Colbert in Las Vegas, and has not been over par in 12 of his past 13 rounds.

Marsh, 52, is in his third Open after tying for second at Pinehurst two years ago, and tying for eighth at Congressional last year.

Even par for 12 holes, he birdied the next three on putts inside of 10 feet. Tour regulars Dave Stockton and Raymond Floyd, plus alternate Bill Tindall, a pro from Seattle who joined Charles as the only ones without a bogey, trailed Marsh by a stroke.

Ringer's tale of incoming woe included two three-putts, one from six feet behind the cup where the downhiller got away from him; a bad lie just beyond one green where he simply could not get the club on the ball properly. The nightmare ended when a par putt from eight feet spun around inside the lip and popped out.

"Except for maybe two holes, I had makeable birdie putts on the first 11 holes. Then I had a stretch of defensive putts, and these greens are just so difficult," Ringer said.

"Now, I need to calm down, relax, and re-evaluate what I'm going to do tomorrow."

NOTES: Ringer's troubles were nothing compared to the rest of the Middle Atlantic group. Mike McGinnis of Holly Hills CC, shot 80, and Bruce Lehnhard, the two-time Middle Atlantic PGA Player of the Year, 84. . . . Former PGA tourist Wally Armstrong, from Maitland, Fla., and the Middle Atlantic medalist, had 74. . . . Joel Hirsch, from Chicago, one of four entries with Chesapeake Cup experience, had the low round among the amateurs, 75.

Pub Date: 7/05/96

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