- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
By Friday the field was down to four, Hutson against Sykes and little Meezie Pritchett against lovely Laura MacIvor. Laura had a man and a mouse, which added up to a problem. Doubtful about how hard she wanted to work on her game, she had made a weekend date with an Air Force Academy plebe. Early in the week she had decided she was past her peak in golf, being 17 and all, and talked about retiring. But on Wednesday she had crammed a lucky toy mouse into her pocket and run off seven birdies in the 15 holes she had to play. So she canceled her date at Colorado Springs and headed for the practice tee.
Meezie had a problem, too. It was Mr. Meezie, better known as Newton Pritchett, M.D., esteemed cardiologist from Raleigh, N.C. "Daddy, I told you not to follow me during the match," she complained after her semifinal against Laura. "You sneak around in the trees and I know you are there. I smelled your pipe smoke and I heard you cough."
Dr. Pritchett could be excused for bobbing through the woods like a Cheyenne stalking a scalp, for what he was peeking at was not only his daughter but perhaps the best match of the tournament. For the first 14 holes Laura was twisting and waggling and making eyes at the ball and pretty well having her girlish way. Newton Pritchett was hiding in the weeds and, said Meezie, "messing me up," as Laura held a two-hole lead.
But Meezie, 5 feet 2 and 107 pounds, is not the give-up type. She had come from five down after 10 holes to win the Carolina Junior Championship 1 up, and from four down after 10 to take her first-round match in the National Junior. "I get so far behind, I have nothing to lose," she said. "I knew if I could win one hole the pressure would be on Laura and I would have a chance." Meezie got her hole at 15 and another at 16, and still another at 17. Then on 18 Laura hit an approach to within six inches of the hole, only to see Meezie pitch up and one-putt for the win. Dr. Pritchett ran out of the pines and hugged Meezie. Her bespectacled kid brother, Newt Jr.—who is 10 years old and plays to an 11 handicap—kissed her and cried. "She's the prettiest girl in the tournament," a lady said. Told of this, Meezie observed, "Well, there's not much left."
What was left was Gail Sykes—Schenectady's Athlete of the Year in 1964. Hardly an unpretty package, she had beaten Kathy Hutson 2 and 1.
On Saturday the championship simply went to the strongest and most savvy. Long off the tee and ever-poised, Gail played the same steady, relentless golf she had all week. Gail's mother had told her not to walk fast because she might tire herself out at the high altitude, and whether she won a hole or lost it Gail dutifully walked slowly. "When Meezie lost a hole, she'd run like a pony to the next tee, and then all she could do was wait for me," said Gail after the round. "There used to be a woman at home who beat me that way, and I learned a lot from her."
On the 6th hole Gail took the lead. She won the next two holes as well, and Meezie went to the turn 3 down. She was taking three shots to get places where Gail would be in two and, even worse, the North Carolinian's short game had fallen apart, and her putting, too.
The match ended on the 14th hole with Meezie, the loser by 5 and 4, wiping away a tear and Gail, the winner by 5 and 4, also wiping away a tear, that being the way with girls' golf.
"What a pleasant tournament to run," Purvis James Boatwright had said early in the week. And what a refreshing tournament to see, for children seem to know some things that adults don't. One girl was four holes down coming into the 9th green. "She's got to gamble now, got to gamble," her father kept saying intently. The girl herself was looking at the dark sky, smiling and chanting, "Rain, rain, go away."