In the Colonial National Invitation at Fort Worth something happened which should encourage every pro on the circuit. Arnold Palmer lost his third tournament in a row.
He was defeated by 20 other pros and Julius Boros, the big, slow-moving former Open champion who sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 71st hole to take first place with a 280. It was Boros' first tournament victory of the season, and one which may turn out to be significant. In eight of the last 12 years, the winner of the U.S. Open has been among the top five at Fort Worth. Colonial Country Club is Ben Hogan's home course, and Hogan has accounted for four of the Open victories. But Lloyd Mangrum, Ed Furgol, Dick Mayer and Tommy Bolt have helped the tradition.
Colonial itself was once a U.S. Open course, and it may be this that makes the demanding 7,041-yard course such a good test. As Boros pointed out, "It is just like the Open. You have to position your tee shots and there are undulating greens."
As for Palmer, he began his losing streak when he was defeated by tall Bill Collins in a playoff for the Houston Open. He fell to a fifth place tie the next week in the Tournament of Champions at Las Vegas. At Colonial, Palmer dropped even lower, tying for 22d and winning only $243.33.
If Palmer's performance was disappointing to the masses who followed him, he was not particularly disturbed. "I was tired and I was trying out a new set of irons," he explained. "The constant pressure of contention seemed to catch up with me." Nor did Palmer see anything strange in his changing irons, although this was his third switch this year. "I hook the middle irons," he said. "So I switch clubs more than anybody. I'm constantly trying to correct my swing."
There is no question that the Colonial course requires deep thinking and expert play, and last week there was plenty of both. At the ninth in the first round, Gene Littler, who tied for second with the 40-year-old Australian, Kelvin Nagle, had a 100-yard holeout for an eagle deuce. Mike Souchak, playing in the threesome directly ahead, had made almost precisely the same shot. Only Hogan among the leaders was unhappy with his game. As in the Masters earlier, he hit more greens than the winner and even managed more birdies, but he had more putts. A closing 69 (though he three-putted the final green) soothed him somewhat.
More soothed, of course, was Boros, who won $5,000 and has seldom looked better in winning. A late starter who has never won a tournament before May, Boros has been creeping up on the leaders with a second in the Crosby, a fifth in the Masters and a third at Las Vegas. He is a good hot-weather player who would like nothing better than to preserve a tradition—a tradition, incidentally, that Arnold Palmer would just as soon forget.