Kaser promptly lost in the first round, as did Masserio. So much for known players. "I never won at nothin' but poker," said Brunson.
On the other hand, Ashworth, a stylish player despite a cross-handed putting stroke, kept winning. He defeated Bobby Cornett of Irving, Texas and Frank Reynolds of Lake Placid, Fla. and Mark Wiebe of Escondido, Calif., a tall, long-hitting blond who wants to go on the big tour. Then Ashworth beat Jim Wilkinson of Winter Park, Fla., another big hitter whose jeans kept slipping down his hips, and was in the finals.
At the same time, an unknown among unknowns was making it to the finals from the other bracket. Twenty-one-year-old Rick Pearson of Daytona, Fla. was playing in his first pro tournament, if one didn't count a shot at the PGA Qualifying School, which he failed. Pearson was a fine hitter with a Florida cockiness about him. "Christmas is over, I ain't foolin'," he'd say to an opponent after failing to make an easy birdie putt.
Pearson reached the finals by firing three- and four-under-par rounds at folks named Lynn Landgren from Salt Lake City, Pete Brumfield from Roswell, N. Mex., James Blair from Ogden, Utah and Dave Lundstrum from Houston, another strong young player who intends to make it through the qualifying school someday and join the blond look-alikes on the tour.
The final was set: Ashworth, the cross-hander with local knowledge, against Pearson, the Florida hot dog who clearly looked to be the stronger, better player. The night before the deciding round Brunson was dining in a seafood restaurant with some friends when Baxter found him. Baxter had in mind promoting a little more action with Brunson—but at the right odds.
"I make that Pearson kid a dollar 40," said Baxter, who already had Ashworth in the big bet with Dolly on who would win the tournament.
"Not at that price," Brunson said.
"I can get a dollar 30 anywhere in town," Baxter said.
"I think you ought to bet," said Brunson, dipping into the stewed tomatoes and zucchini. "I ain't givin' no dollar 30."
" 'Dolly Brunson don't want to make a bet'—is that what I'm gonna hear around town?" said Baxter, adding that he was double-parked outside.