The celebratory leap resulted in deep cuts on his left wrist and hand. "On the last hole I was still pulling incredibly hard for Ben," Strickler said last week at the Houston Open, where he was back on Crenshaw's bag, "but I had to do it from the bathroom sink, because I was bleeding profusely."
Jim Thorpe experienced a thrill in Houston when he noticed that Charlie Sifford, the first black to play regularly at the top levels of professional golf, was following his threesome.
"I saw him with that cigar, and he said, 'Man, I got to come over and give you some support. Because you're the only one left now,' " said Thorpe, who as a teenager during the 1960s watched Sifford play at the Greater Greensboro ( N.C.) Open. "It made me feel good. I also felt nervous. I really wanted to play well for him." Thorpe did play well, shooting 69 for the round. (He finished the tournament 32nd.)
The 72-year-old Sifford, who lives in a suburb of Houston, plays sparingly on the Senior tour and is currently helping care for his wife, Rose, who has leukemia. Thorpe said there was a sense of melancholy in their meeting.
"For him it's discouraging to see only one black player playing," said Thorpe, who is 46. "He told me, 'I feel like I've done a lot, but still, I just haven't done enough.' I said, 'Charlie, you can only do so much. It's up to the minority kids to help themselves. The doors have been opened, the stage has been set. Now they have to perform.' "
A Swedish Sequence
Carin Hjalmarsson, who was a second-team All-America for the University of Tulsa in 1990 and finished fifth at the LPGA qualifying school last October, is on track to become the fourth Swede in eight years to win LPGA Rookie of the Year honors. Her predecessors are Liselotte Neumann (1988), Helen Alfredsson (1992) and Annika Sorenstam (1994).
Hjalmarsson (pronounced YALL-marson) tied for seventh last month at the Pinewild Women's Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., and finished 18th in the Sprint Championship last week at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach. With two other top-20's and 168 points, she leads Pat Hurst (115) and Tracy Hanson (93) in Rookie of the Year standings.
Hjalmarsson is living mostly out of a suitcase, having entered all seven full-field LPGA events this year. For now her main goal is to keep her playing card so that her fianc�, Stefan Koch, can quit his club-pro job in Sweden and caddie for her in 1996.