The inclusion of 25 club professionals in the field often elicits some raised eyebrows. These are the guys who work in the nation's pro shops, whose games allegedly are not good enough to compete with the touring pros.
That's why a round such as Bruce Zabriski's on Thursday elicits cheers from the working-class pros. Zabriski, 42, in his first year as the pro at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, shot 2-under-par 70.
"I've got to keep everything in perspective," Zabriski said. "I had the round of a lifetime. To be here is such an honor and then to play like that, better than I really know how to, is a great honor. I'm keeping it in perspective. We'll see what happens."
REALLY PHIL?: Except for a brief appearance at the British Open, where he missed the cut, Phil Mickelson has barely been seen since his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.
Mickelson played in the tournament despite the impending birth of his daughter, Amanda, who was born the day after the tournament. Mickelson insisted he would leave, no matter his standing, to be at home for her birth. Some wondered if Mickelson would really leave if he had a chance to win his first major championship.
"What really surprises me," Mickelson said, "is there are some people who would have stayed. That disappoints me. I thought that was something every father should do."
REALITY CHECK: The highlight of Hale Irwin's victory in the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah was his impromptu dash around the 18th green after he sank an improbable 60-foot birdie putt that put him in a playoff with Mike Donald. Irwin, 54, said he could not duplicate that mad dash.
"I'd need a golf cart for that," he said. "Remember, I'm on the senior tour now."
Irwin didn't look much like a senior on Thursday. The two-time Senior PGA Tour Player of the Year shot 70.
ETC.: Steve Elkington, the 1995 PGA champion, withdrew Thursday after his caddie, Joe Grillo, suffered from what Elkington termed heart problems. Elkington decided to join Grillo at the nearby hospital. Grillo reportedly was in stable condition. Elkington was replaced by Bob Friend. This is the fifth PGA to be played in Illinois. Safety Harbor's John Huston opened with 72. Clearwater's Greg Kraft shot 74. Palm Harbor's Jay Overton, the pro at the Westin Innisbrook Resort, still was on the course when play was suspended. He was at 3 over.
_ BOB HARIG