"The bar was empty, so he didn't have to buy drinks," says Troy, who raised a beer to toast the first hole-in-one he'd seen in 15 years of golf. Matthew wanted to celebrate with a meal of crab legs, but the grocery was out of them, and he settled for a Tigerish champion's dinner of macaroni and a cheeseburger. The player who's believed to be the youngest ever to make an ace reaped one other reward, too. "My friends think I'm cool now," he says.
It had to be the belt. Leigh Anne Hardin, unstoppable all week, started Sunday's final of the U.S. Girls' Junior without her lucky Mickey Mouse belt around her waist. She promptly double-bogeyed the 1st hole. Hardin, 16, had used discipline and wizardry woods to reach the match-play final with historic dispatch, closing out all her foes in 16 holes or less, but the basketball star from Martinsville ( Ind.) High, John Wooden's old school, was soon 2 down in the final against Brittany Straza, and needed a belt. "I was nervous, but once I settled down and got my Mickey Mouse belt on, everything was O.K.," she said.
Girl power was on the other side. Straza, 17, who was 40 to 50 yards longer off the tee, spent the day hitting mid-iron approach shots while Hardin used lofted woods. Yet Straza had an ongoing tiff with her three-footer-phobic putter, while Hardin kept slapping seven-and nine-woods and two-putting the greens at storied Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. On the 18th hole Hardin rolled in an eight-footer that put her in the record book with Mickey Wright, Nancy Lopez, Amy Alcott, Michelle McGann and other Girls' Junior champs. That's when Hardin surprised fans and opponents who admired her steely nerves by bursting into tears and thanking her lucky star: Mickey. Here's hoping that girl golf's latest champion lives happily ever after.