- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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A BOGEY FOR GOLF
The booming popularity of tournament golf can be laid to the magnetism of a very few players—Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Snead. If a tournament has them it is a box-office smash, and if it doesn't it has no more appeal than an all-male dance troupe. Tournament sponsors have long wanted the Professional Golfers' Association to insure participation of its superstars in tournaments, but there has been no insurance. Instead, the PGA took a regrettable step backwards when it sanctioned a $75,000 exhibition called "World Series of Golf," September 8-9, making it impossible for Palmer, Nicklaus and Player—the "World Series" competitors—to compete in the Denver Open that week.
"Low blow!" cried Ray Korte Jr., president of the International Golf Sponsors Association, and rightfully. He recommended cancellation of all western tournaments, including the Denver Open. He said an action that could result in tournaments being dropped "must be frightening to the hundreds of players who travel the circuit for money." Indeed, the players were angry. Said Don January: "We don't have enough to say about something like this."
Jim Gaquin, tournament manager of the PGA, now frankly admits the handling of the World Series event was "a mistake." Potential sponsors are wising up to the fact that golf's stars are likely to skip certain tournaments, and a number of them have demanded the same, skip-proof dates. "It has put me in a position of making one sponsor deliriously happy and alienating the others," says Gaquin. More important now is that a faith has been shattered, and the game will suffer for it until the PGA learns that big tournaments need big names and a meaningless, gimmicky World Series must never conflict with established and meaningful events.
SONNY OF SUNNYVILLE
Except to his sparring partners (he knocks out one per session) Sonny Liston in camp is not the old sobersides he has been pictured. Patrons of the Pines, the Catskills resort where he is training to fight Floyd Patterson, have found Liston waggish and hammy, a 220-pound merry-andrew, whose great heap of a body astride a skinny English bicycle is a comic sight, flitting about the grounds in the manner of a performing bear. He waves to neighbors and passes time with admiring kids. His public workouts lure the guests from their pinochle, mahjongg and cha-cha lessons. He enters the tent that serves as his outdoor arena to shouts of "Hi, Sonny!" "What say, Champ!" "Look, dear, there's Sonny!" He does head stands on a table, bouncing and rolling precariously as if to begin a one-man avalanche. He bends the boards, skipping rope in perfect time to a rock record of Night Train. He poses willingly with the guests, gagging up the Polaroid shots by spreading his huge hands over a man's bald head so that it looks as if the man is wearing a hat of brown bananas.
The general manager of the Pines said at first he feared that in Liston he had bargained for trouble but since has found him to be "a great guy, friendly and obliging as you please." A little red-haired boy, one of Sonny's frequent companions, said he thought fighters were supposed to be real rough—but "not Sonny. He's nice. We talk a lot. No, never about boxing. Mostly just about things. You know. Like he was a friend of mine."
WHEY OF LIFE
Milk is food for babes, but for grown men wheaten bread.—Philo, 40 A.D. "You said it!" said Percy Cerutty, Australia's angry old man of athletic agonies. Lashing out at unsuspecting university students in Adelaide last week, the man who reared Miler Herb Elliott on raw rolled oats, raisins and nuts cried: "Milk has a psychologically terrible effect upon the male animal and should be banned early in life. Once he has the taste of milk he will never properly develop as an individual. It makes a boy"—hold on, now—"mother-drawn."
Later, still wound up, Coach Cerutty spelled out the lurking villainy inherent in milk drinkers. "The poorer types of athletes," he said darkly, "are mothers' boys never properly weaned. Their addiction keeps them on a sort of psychological umbilical cord."