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.