Eichelberger is tall, strong, swarthy and intense. He stalks around a putting green, generally with a cigarette stuck in his mouth and looking angry, but it is a mask for a friendly, outgoing personality. He is from Waco, Texas, and he can hit a ball 18 miles, often straight. His best 1970 finish was a 10th at the Greater Milwaukee Open, and before Bahama his earnings were $23,238.
Herb Hooper is as quiet and unassuming as the President of almost the same name. He has a slight build, and it follows that the best part of his game is chipping and putting. Hooper was bothered by a bad back early in the year and earned no points at all during the first two months. He was apparently out of contention for the top 60 when a tie for sixth at Coral Springs, the week before Bahama, gave him 63.50 points and a chance. Hooper had earned $28,335 when he arrived on Grand Bahama.
It was quickly apparent that it was going to be a rugged week for Larry Null, who travels with the tour and whose duties include compiling and publishing the point list. None of the players involved were all that interested in the point standing, of course, but they kept hanging around Null's desk in the press tent early in the week, looking like a pack of hungry dogs, and when Null produced an informal, scratch-pad version of the list, the players almost ripped it to shreds.
On Thursday it looked as though the battle for the top 60 would never really materialize. Eichelberger started like lightning, sticking an approach shot one inch from the first hole for a kick-in birdie, but things got away from him and he wound up with a 76. Poor Herb Hooper was even worse, at 79 an excellent bet to miss the cut and pick up no points at all. Of the challengers, only Jamie-son, with a 72, could smile. That was six strokes behind the leader, Doug Sanders. Palmer, in his bid for his first victory since 1969, was in good shape at 68. (A win would make him the 1970 money leader if Trevino faltered.)
Then, on Friday, all sorts of wonderful things happened to the three challengers. Hooper rescued himself from oblivion by shooting a 69 for a 148 total, which was exactly the score it took to make the cut. Eichelberger had a strong 70 for 146, and Jamieson, with a 69 for 141, was up among the leaders. Beyond that, disaster struck some of the golfers ahead of them. Steve Spray, the 60th man, missed the cut, and Bob Stanton, the 59th man, after almost overcoming a shaky first-day 76 with a nice round Friday, blew it, taking a hideous nine on 18 and was also out.
And there was one more. John Schroeder, son of Ted, the Davis Cup hero, shot a 149 to miss the cut by a stroke. Schroeder was 56th on the point list and had enough of a margin to almost assure him of finishing among the 60. But at dusk, when he learned he was out, he sought out Larry Null. Where would Null be Sunday night? At the hotel. Schroeder said he would call.
Saturday was a disaster for Eichelberger. He shot a 76, which put him in a tie for 62nd and which, if the tournament had been over, would have given him roughly nine points, not even enough to overtake Spray. Worse, the quietly determined Hooper shot a 68 to go six shots ahead of Eichelberger. The players who gathered around Larry Null's desk after the third round were agreed: Jamieson, who had a 71 to remain among the tournament leaders, and Hooper were virtually in. Poor Ike had blown it.
It was an equally disastrous day for Palmer. Paired with the leader, Chris Blocker, a longtime rabbit and a distant 93rd on the point list, Palmer fell apart on the back nine and shot a 75.
Eichelberger tried to produce a miracle on Sunday, but his 54th-place finish was good for only 16 points, and he was out. Both Hooper and Jamieson made it, however. Hooper completed a remarkable comeback by shooting a 69 and finishing tied for 16th. That gave him 52 points, enough to send him past Stanton for 60th place. Jamieson, with a final-round 72, tied for 10th and moved up to 58 on the list.
As for Arnie, well, he didn't get his win. Doug Sanders did, after a playoff with Chris Blocker. Trevino finished third to keep his money lead. Aaron earned his bonus. And the Beards had a good time. But in the end Hooper and Jamieson had the best time of all.