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Afterward, Round Table's proud owners, Oilman Travis M. Kerr of Oklahoma City, Mrs. Kerr and their 21-year-old daughter, Nancy answered Question No. 1: Will Round Table head for the Woodward Stakes at Belmont September 28, where he might have a chance to run against Gallant Man, another claimant to Horse of the Year honors? Answer: no—Round Table will rest.
"What," questioned an eastern admirer of Gallant Man, "is your reply to the possible accusation that you are ducking Gallant Man?"
Mr. Kerr took a sip of champagne. "Here is my answer," he said. "Gallant Man was invited to run in the Westerner at Hollywood Park this summer. He declined, and we won it with Round Table. Gallant Man was nominated for the American Derby in Chicago. He didn't show up, and we won it. Gallant Man was invited to run in the United Nations here today. He chose not to come, and we won it. Our horse has started 17 times this year [he's won 11], he's traveled coast to coast, he's met and defeated older horses. To my way of thinking, our horse today proved he is the Horse of the Year."
Happily for those who still hope to see Round Table on the same track with Gallant Man, both horses have accepted invitations to Laurel on Armistice Day. It could well be the day of decision for the 3-year-olds.
FALTER IN THE FINALS
On the green-and-white canopied front lawn of The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. last Saturday a new amateur golf champion was crowned. He is Hillman Robbins Jr., a lean-faced, thin-framed 25-year-old Air Force lieutenant from Memphis. Robbins, on a five-week leave from desk duty at the Blytheville, Arkansas Air Force base, won the championship by playing cool, steady golf in the final 36-hole match while his tiring opponent, 40-year-old Dr. Frank M. Taylor of Pomona, Calif.—the pre-match favorite—faltered and found that he had had to play one match too many.
Robbins came to Brookline as a member of this year's Walker Cup team, as did Taylor, and with a fine set of credentials that had established him as one of this country's outstanding young golfers. He started his career in the game as a caddie for his father, Hillman Sr., a 2-handicap player with a great putting touch. He began playing seriously as a 14-year-old and a few years later, as an undergraduate in accounting at Memphis State, won the 1954 national collegiate title. The following year Robbins went all the way to the semifinals of the national amateur at Richmond, won the North and South amateur in 1956 and the Interservice championship this summer. With 20 months of a three-year hitch in the Air Force still to be served, he has given little thought to his future career but at present intends to remain an amateur and will next compete (if he can get leave) in the 1958 Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in April.
In his final match with Taylor, Robbins kept puffing on his cigaret and pounding his ball out of the rough and onto the green while the short- but straight-hitting dentist from California found his game going shorter and shorter. Taylor lost five successive bogey holes in the morning round, lost the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th in the muggy, hot afternoon, and when Robbins rolled in a curling downhill birdie putt of 10 feet on the 14th (or 32nd) to close out the match 5 and 4, the ending was very much a merciful one.