When Billy Casper came walking up the 12th fairway at the Tournament of Champions last Sunday, he had a two-stroke lead over Arnold Palmer. Yet you had to figure "Poor Billy. He doesn't stand a chance." And he didn't. Palmer birdied the 13th and 15th, then knocked in a 25-foot putt from off the green to birdie the 18th and win by a stroke, in the Palmer fashion.
With that, the man who is dominating his fellow professionals like no one since Byron Nelson in 1945, added 11,000 Las Vegas silver dollars to his Masters and Texas Open winnings, giving him earnings of $35,300 in five weeks. One doubts that any golfer ever had a more spectacular and lucrative month.
It will be small comfort to the competition then, to hear this private comment of Palmer's after his win last weekend. "I've been giving it a pretty good run since February," he said. "But I've still got a lot of work to do. Don't laugh. I'm serious. I'd like to be hitting it better. It's mostly my irons that concern me. And my putting isn't as good as I'd like it to be."
Palmer may be right. But heaven help the opposition if he ever gets on his game.
END OF A STREAK
They were being called "The Untouchables." Through 23 dual matches they had carried North Carolina's tennis team to as many victories, giving the Tar Heels a 34-match winning streak. The top five singles men became the pride of the campus and they were also the big reason to believe that Miami's streak of 105 victories, an alltime college record, might be broken in the meet that ended the season.
Carolina sunshine made the day perfect. Students cut labs and took their dates to the tennis courts, where 4,000 were seated at $1 each, or climbed trees and dormitory buildings to watch. Miami Coach Dale Lewis called it "the largest crowd ever to sec college tennis in this country."
Rod Mandelstam, Miami's South African star and former Wimbledon junior champion, took on Untouchable George Sokol, who 13 years ago fled Red Czechoslovakia with his parents. Alas, the first Untouchable went down to defeat, 6-1, 6-1, and so did all the others. Carolina did win two of three doubles matches and the praise of Coach Lewis: "Carolina has the best doubles team we've seen this year, but Princeton has the best singles."
Cheer up, North Carolina. A streak of 34 is by no means bad (and neither is Miami's 106), and you and Miami have proved that tennis—amateur, pro or open—is still not dead.
The gimmicks of the press agent are generally trite, frequently desperate and often tasteless. For trite, desperate bad taste, with a touch of the mawkish thrown in, we offer you this one, designed to rouse you into buying a ticket for the Philadelphia fight between NBA Light Heavyweight Champion Harold Johnson and Doug Jones.
The fascinations of this match have thus far been pretty well resisted. So out of Jones's training camp this week went a telegram over the fighter's signature. It was addressed to President Kennedy, and it expressed the unctuous hope that the Chief Executive would present to the United Nations a plan whereby Jones would fight Champion Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title, the proceeds to be donated "to help preserve peace in our world."
MAN ON A MISSION
It is yet no rival to soccer but a certain amount of basketball is played in France, as it is played almost everywhere these days. To encourage the game's development abroad Bob Cousy, veteran star of the Boston Celtics, set out last week to persuade the French that basketball is a "simple, noncomplicated, smart game," in a word, chic. Sponsored by a razor-blade manufacturer, he embarked on a tour of 15 French cities to demonstrate the game's tactics and to stress to individualistic Frenchmen the virtues of team play. His sponsor could not have picked a better salesman. Cousy, of French parentage, is fluent in the language, and no one knows more about the inner workings of a court maneuver.
The most popular show on Japanese television these nights, surpassing even baseball and adult Westerns, is that gory occidental delight, professional wrestling. It follows the hero-villain pattern (made in the U.S.A.), and millions of credulous Japanese, like millions of credulous Americans, believe in it sincerely—so sincerely that in one recent week four elderly Japanese keeled over with fatal heart attacks brought on by the excitement of "eye-gouging," "biting" and Other seemingly nasty tricks.
Western wrestling was imported to Japan eight years ago by Rikidozan, a famed (and legitimate) sumo wrestler in his day, and it has made him wealthy. It has also made no contribution whatever to the efforts of the People-to-People sports organization, which seeks international understanding through sport. The villains in these Japanese wrestling shows are always foreigners, and the foreigners often are Americans. Japanese sports papers report the bouts seriously, perpetuating the notion that these are genuine "world championship" bouts between dirty, cheating Westerners and decent, heroic Japanese.
We have nothing to complain about. It's a buzzard come home to roost. After all, we invented phony wrestling, some of our newspaper sports pages still report it as if it were on the level and many of our villains have been foreigners, among them some Japanese.
The great international candidates' chess tournament (to determine who plays Mikhail Botvinnik for the championship of the world) is under way in Cura√ßao, Dutch West Indies, and, says a sportswriter for the Associated Press, "This tropical island off Venezuela has gone chess mad." There is a pretty good reason for the excitement of the inhabitants, who are now going about their business with ears glued to pocket radios, like Americans during the World Series.
In fact, there is good reason for excitement anywhere. This particular candidates' tournament is the most important chess event of the decade, partly because of the phenomenal progress of 19-year-old Bobby Fischer, the U.S. chess prodigy, partly because of the desperate ventures of Mikhail Tal, the former world champion trying for a comeback. If any of the eight contenders was given no chance whatsoever it was Pal Benko, a 33-year-old Hungarian refugee who has become a U.S. citizen. A pleasant, untemperamental craftsman, Benko won the U.S. Open championship last year. One reason why he was given no chance at Cura√ßao was that in the candidates' tournament three years ago he did not win a single game. The official tournament account suggested that he should never again appear in such big-time competition because of "a despairing attitude when faced by the leading players."
Well, he seems to have conquered his despairing attitude at Cura√ßao. In the first round he defeated Bobby Fischer easily with a new opening variation that Fischer was unable to solve. When he then met Mikhail Tal, Benko played his unorthodox opening again, and at the 41st move, when not a whisper was audible, Tal offered his hand in a gesture of resignation. "I finally did it," Benko said, in bemused wonder. "It's the first time, and it feels wonderful."
There are still seven weeks of the tournament to go, so Benko's new chess development will run into trouble. But so far he has made it plain that Fischer and Tal have someone to defeat besides each other.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•A French sporting-goods manufacturer is reported to have produced a new nylon leader material with the characteristics of a chameleon. It turns yellowish over sandy bottoms, dark brown over mud, greenish over weeds and so on, making it very hard for the fish to see.
•Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, is expected to double this year as regional sportscaster for CBS, replacing Tom Harmon, who goes to ABC. Reason—Hirsch's status with the Rams is still up in the air because of the continued ownership struggle.
•As of yore, West Coast members of the U.S. Olympic Committee are upset because major chairmanships for the 1964 Olympic Games include only one West Coaster. Out of 34 positions, 18 chairmen have been named from New York and eight others from Atlantic Coast states. Tokyo will see pretty much the same group that went to Helsinki, Melbourne and Rome.
BLOOD AND MONEY IN TIJUANA
Aside from the goring of Numero Uno Matador Antonio Ordó√±ez, who will thereby be out of action for at least six weeks, the recent corrida at Tijuana's Plaza Monumental produced some other noteworthy considerations. The crowd of 18,000 high-paying customers yielded a gate of $75,000, a world record which surpassed by some $30,000 the highest gate at Mexico City's 48,000-seat Plaza, the largest in the world.
Also remarkable was the fact that each of the six bulls was killed with a single sword thrust—an achievement rare even in Spain. Matador Jesus Cordoba dispatched three of the animals and Matador Jaime Bola√±os two. The wounded Ordó√±ez, after struggling free from a swarm of assistants and friends trying to drag him out of the ring, hobbled after his bony, erratic bull, gave it four wrenching pases de castigo, squared it for the kill and, as the crowd watched in awed silence, drove in over the horns. The thrust was slightly, and understandably, off center but Ordó√±ez, blood from the wound in his right thigh soaking his pink stocking, pushed aside helping hands and stood before the bull until the animal fell to its knees. Then he crossed the ring under his own power and was carried to the infirmary.
Ordó√±ez has agreed to appear in Tijuana again July 8 for one more crack at high fees and treacherous bulls. He will have a lot to avenge in the way of pride and a lot to live up to in the way of drama.
Just before sunrise one morning a week ago Golf Pro Dean Cummings staggered into the clubroom of the Ironwood Country Club in San Jose and fell exhausted. His parched lips were cracked, his right hand was raw and bleeding, his left hand blistered and swollen. For the past 24 hours he had suffered from double vision, and he had not slept in more than five days. What was left of him, though, was happy.
Cummings, who is 22, had set out to break the world record for nonstop golf and he had done it. Last year DeRoss Kinkade had played continuously for 39 hours on a flat Oregon course, setting a record of 365 holes. Cummings decided to break the record on the very hilly Ironwood course by playing 700 holes in 100 hours. Admission proceeds would go to the Heart Fund, and for a $5 contribution you could play along with Cummings for nine holes.
Caddies were supplied in relays by San Jose State fraternities. At night the course lights were turned on, and Cummings kept going, stopping only long enough to eat and submit to an occasional massage. Three times during the ordeal he was examined by a doctor.
On the third day double vision struck him. From the tee he could see two flags, and on the green he saw two holes. Thereafter his caddies had to direct his every shot. On the fourth day his hands blistered and his lips cracked, but he continued to play, and beat 45 of the 48 men who came out to oppose him.
Largely on the basis of his doctor's findings, Cummings quit finally—after 91½ hours and 678 holes. He had fallen short of his goal, but not by much. His total score of 2,276 shots was only 92 over par, he had shot 94 birdies, he had walked very close to 100 miles and he had earned a nickname, The Iron Man of Ironwood. He probably had done his own heart no good, but he had earned $600 for the Heart Fund.
THEY SAID IT
•Lou Boudreau on New York autograph hunters: "1 don't mind signing autographs, but in New York they grab you, tear your clothes and if they don't like the way you sign they squirt ink on you. Ballpoint pens were a great invention."
•Harry Craft, manager of the Houston Colts, when asked where his club will finish: "In San Francisco on September 28th."