"Has it hurt your putting?"
"No. I'm putting as well as I ever have in my life."
"Then what are you worried about?"
"I don't know," Gene said. "I just noticed I'm watching the putter, and I wondered if there was something wrong with that."
"Not if you're making the putts."
"Well, then," he said, "I'm not gonna worry anymore."
FEB. 16—With a 76 in the final round of the Phoenix Open, I dropped from a tie for ninth place clear out of the top 50. A tie for ninth was worth $2,800. I won $143. And the boys are having fun with my performances of the past two weeks. "Frank," said Al Balding, "you look like a sprint horse trying to run a mile race." Deane Beman and Steve Reid are calling me "Fast-Start Beard," and Deane, who's been very successful in the insurance business, has offered to sell me insurance on my Sunday rounds. It's a million laughs.
MARCH 5, Orlando, Fla.—Bob Goalby came over and proposed a deal to me. He's working with the Amana people, the ones who make deep freezers and refrigerators and things like that, and he wanted to know if I'd be willing to wear an Amana hat, just a regular golf hat with Amana written on it. Bob told me I'd get $50 a week for wearing the hat; he said I was one of 20 pros he was asking. I told him to put me down and I'd start tomorrow if he wants me to. I don't like to wear hats—I think I look like Donald Duck in them—but for $50 a week I'd wear feathers in my hair.
MARCH 23, Jacksonville, Fla.—I believe I've hit upon what's going to get me back into my winning ways. That's my concentration. I just haven't had my good concentration for a year now. I've been worrying about the holes I've already played and the holes I'm going to play, instead of concentrating on just one thing, the shot I'm about to hit. I suspect that the great golfers play each shot as if it's the only shot they're going to hit the rest of their lives.
APRIL 5, Greensboro, N.C.—I saw in the morning paper that Charlie Sifford had a pretty rough time yesterday. He and a couple of spectators got into a shouting match—I don't know what it was all about—and they yelled things at him like "Miss it, nigger" and "Fall down, nigger." Charlie's used to abuse—he's told me about letters he's received warning him not to enter certain tournaments or he'd be shot or his house'd be blown up—but he hit the ceiling yesterday. Charlie missed the cut and he also missed his last chance to qualify for the Masters this year. The strange thing about Charlie having trouble with the gallery here is that Greensboro, as I recall, was the first tournament in the South to welcome him.