Spring is drawing near and invitations have already been mailed to golfers who will comprise the field for the 1969 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. Most of those chosen are picked by formula: all former Masters champions, the first 24 finishers of the year before, the first 16 finishers in the U.S. Open, the U.S. and British Amateur champions and so on. But there is also one wild-card choice available: the former Masters champions are allowed to get together and extend an invitation to one man who otherwise does not qualify.
We hope the champions will ask Charlie Sifford this year. The cigar-smoking Sifford won the important Los Angeles Open in January, and he has been a sound, consistent performer over the years. To the past three Masters, the champions have invited, successively, Mike Souchak, Gardner Dickinson and Tommy Jacobs. Sifford's credentials seem at least as valid (he has won two PGA tournaments since 1967, which is as many as Souchak, Dickinson and Jacobs have won together).
Sifford would be the first black man ever to play in this distinguished tournament. We think the Masters champions would do a service to golf if they invited him.
There is nothing like an undefeated football team to spread a college's fame far and wide. Penn State, which used to get nervous if a prospect came from as far away as Ohio, has a recruiting tentacle reaching all the way down the Mississippi to New Orleans. Jerome May, a third-grader in Metairie, La., has written to Penn State declaring that he wants to go there some day, "because it is my favorite college team. I think Penn State are champs because you won every game.... How do I get to be a student at Penn State College?"
Warren R. Haffner, associate director of academic services at the university, answered young Mr. May. "In order to become a student at Penn State," Haffner replied, "you will have to study hard and receive good grades."
He might have added that a few lessons in downfield blocking wouldn't hurt, either.
THAT LONESOME ROAD
The home-court advantage in Western Athletic Conference basketball games, mentioned here a few weeks ago, was embarrassingly evident this season in the home-and-home series between Arizona and Utah. In Tucson, its home base, Arizona crushed Utah by 26 points, 90-64. When the teams met later in Salt Lake City, the Utes retaliated with a 30-point triumph, 105-75.