Jim Dent successfully defended his Home Depot Seniors Invitational crown on Sunday, the day after his 59th birthday. His 12th Senior tour title was worth $165,000. He built a five-shot lead in the final round, "but then I went to sleep. I almost fell dead on the back nine," Dent said after edging Bob Charles in a playoff. After 19 winless years on the PGA Tour, he has at least one Senior victory in each of the past five years.
"I am blessed. Golf has made my life whole," exults Dent, a former caddie at Augusta National who has won nearly $7 million as a pro. "I've put my kids through college. I've got boats. I have a house in Texas and another house in Florida, and I'm debt-free." He takes issue with Charlie Sifford, who recently bemoaned the plight of African-American golfers. "Things are getting better. All the black colleges have golf teams now. I was at the National Minority Championship in Florida two weeks ago, and I saw a lot of kids who can play. If Charlie had been there, it might have changed his mind," says Dent, who went to Port St. Lucie to watch his son, Jim Jr., compete for Talladega College. Dent applauds President Clinton's efforts to address racial issues in sports and foresees a growing role for blacks in the pro shop as well as on the Tour. "We need more black pros in club jobs, and that's coming," Dent says. "If you can teach people to play golf, then they don't notice what color you are."