Another pro who made it to the World Series but was worn out by the effort was 102-pound Clifford Ann Creed. For four weeks she had dueled with Judy Torleumke for the last available invitation, one which was to be offered to the girl who finished highest on the money list.
Going into the last tournament prior to the World Series, Clifford Ann had a $1,693 edge over Judy in the money standings, but she was five shots back of Judy as the crucial tournament reached the final round. If Judy finished first or second that day and Clifford Ann was no better than seventh, Judy would get the World Series invitation. The two girls got into such a nervous state that Judy made a quadruple bogey 8 on the first hole of the final round, and Clifford Ann. who teed off later, took a 7 on the same par-4. When Judy shot a 78, Clifford Ann's invitation was assured. Meanwhile, Sandra Spuzich qualified for the World Series by winning the U.S. Women's Open, a victory which apparently surprised her as much as it did the equipment manufacturer who had terminated her contract two days before the event.
Kathy Whitworth, the Texan who is the LPGA's current leading money winner, said, "It scares me to think that there is that much money to be spent on sports purses. I certainly wouldn't have the nerve to ask for it. I think you ought to earn what you make. We try to put on a show and give people their money's worth, but I wonder about our being worth that much." Can you picture an Arnold Palmer fretting over such a question?
Even Mickey Wright felt there was "an unreal quality" to such a large purse. The women professionals, she said, seldom capitalize on their ability. "There is a drive missing in us that the men seem to have," she said. "Take, for instance, endorsements. I make about a thousand dollars a year from them. I may play one exhibition match a year. If any leading woman golfer had the desire, she could get someone to help her and make $20,000 or $30,000 extra a year." In keeping with her rather romantic and female approach to finance, Mickey spoke of using money she might win at Springfield to buy some California coastline that resembled Liz Taylor's retreat in The Sandpiper.
The other qualifier for the World Series, Sandra Haynie, said she wanted to invest in property, too. Her dream place is a ranch with horses near Lake Arrowhead. "But I guess $10,000 will make us all think more clearly," she said.
Carol Mann's thinking about the potential value of the top prize was, to say the least, muddled. "I'll pay some bills with it," she said. "No, maybe I will buy myself a present, a diamond ring. But I don't like diamonds. I'll put it in my savings account. But maybe the most sensible thing would be to buy A.T.&T. It's so low now that it must be a good buy. I hope it stays down for another week."
All of the golfers knew that the self-doubting and dreaming and analyzing had to stop by the time of the tournament if they were going to play championship golf. Carol sat under a dryer in a beauty parlor on Thursday morning, and it was there that she built a brave new world for the tournament. Sandra Haynie slept. Kathy Whitworth swung her five-iron in her motel room, and next door to her Mickey Wright was playing solitaire.
The tournament was going to mean a lot to Mickey, even if she was making occasional protestations to the contrary. She had given up golf last year at 30 to return to college, but when that did not satisfy her (SI, April 11) she tried to work out a system of playing in a limited number of tournaments. She decided last March to compete in two tour events, then take two weeks off, then play in two more. She stubbornly stuck to the schedule until the World Series, even though she found her golf and concentration just would be getting sharp at the end of the second playing week. She led at some stage in 13 of the 14 tournaments she entered, but won only four of them. Invariably her concentration gave out before the final 18. "Mickey, that schedule is crazy," Wirtz told her. "You are making yourself go home to Dallas after two tournaments and you know you really don't want to leave." (After her World Series win Mickey announced she would play in the 11 remaining tournaments on the 1966 LPGA tour, and her schedule be damned.)
Before the World Series began, Mickey was out on the Springfield Country Club course at dawn, practicing while the other five golfers were still in bed. On Wednesday she hit 150 golf balls—more, she said, than she had hit in one session in a year. When she came to the 18th tee at the end of one practice round she emptied the balls out of her golf bag and stroked 30 drives down the fairway.
By the time the girls teed up for the tournament at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, what they could win or lose in the next 36 holes had really hit them. "You all had funny looks on your faces," Lennie Wirtz told them later. "You mean we have silver dollars in our eyes," Sandra Haynie said.