Golf: Kite's preparations remain on course despite bad finish

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(First Edition)

TOM KITE, who will defend his US Open title at Baltusrol next week, dropped a shot on each of the last two holes of his opening round in the Buick Classic to take the shine off an encouraging effort. By finishing five and six he slipped from a share of the lead to tie with Bob Tway for third place, who also shot a three-under-par 68 on the Westchester Country Club course in Harrison.

Dudley Hart compiled a 66, five under par, to lead by one stroke from the second-placed Brandel Chamblee.

With 197 yards to the pin on the 17th, Kite hit a six-iron over the green to bring about a bogey. Then after backing a nine-iron third shot off the green on the par-five finishing hole, he three-putted to complete what he later called 'a dismal finish'.

It was all the more frustrating for Kite considering how well he had coped with difficult conditions up until that point. On reflection he was delighted with his 68, but was upset at the manner in which it was achieved.

'The golf course played very, very difficult,' Kite said. 'With the wind, the hills, the rough . . . and with the pins tucked in it was hard to get it close. You know you're going to make some bogeys on this course and I guess it doesn't matter where they come, but to bogey the last two, and both of them playing downwind, well that's pretty disappointing.'

Hart needed only 11 putts on the back nine on his way to capitalising on Kite's bogey, bogey finish, but he was among the few who did not struggle. Everyone in the field had to contend with tricky, shifting winds that allowed only eight of the 156 starters to finish in the 60s and produced some scores that can only be described as embarrassing. Craig Thomas, a PGA sectional qualifier, slashed and thrashed his way to a 92.

Lee Janzen, Brad Faxon, Duffy Waldorf and Fred Funk finished just off the pace with 69s. Seve Ballesteros had a one-over-par 72.

BUICK CLASSIC (Harrison, New York) Leading first-round scores (US unless stated): 66 D Hart. 67 B Chamblee. 68 T Kite, B Tway. 69 L Janzen, D Waldorf, B Faxon, F Funk. 70 K Green, J Delsing, J Haas, D Frost (SA), M Kuramoto (Japan). 71 I Baker-Finch (Aus), C Beck, W Levi, P Burke, J Maggert, M Dawson. 72 S Ballesteros (Sp), M Weibe, L Rinker, W Wood, M Smith, C Strange, R Freeman, B Gilder, V Singh (Fiji), F Couples, B Fabel.