It was good someone was seeing silver, because the sponsors certainly weren't. The crowd at tee-off time was hardly 1,000. By then the investors were being called the Thirsty Thirteen.
The gallery was made up largely of men, and you could hear them whispering, "My drives go up by that tree," and, "I use a five-iron from there, too." Men come to see the women professionals because most of them believe they could beat the girls and they enjoy comparing themselves with professionals, something they judiciously resist while watching Palmer or Nicklaus. It seems, however, that most women golfers are jealous of the finesse that is the trademark of the successful woman professional. Golfing housewives would rather stay away and maintain that women cannot play excellent golf because they are not strong enough.
After the pros had completed the first hole of the World Series many men in the gallery had to be wondering if there was something, after all, in what their wives had said. In their nervousness the golfers had sprayed shots into the rough, skulled them still deeper into trouble and finally been fortunate to end up with three bogeys and three pars.
"I watched them stagger down the first fairway," said Wirtz, "and I wondered what time night fell." But the first hole broke the tension, and for the rest of the tournament grim combativeness replaced the jumps. Wright and Mann birdied the 2nd hole and Haynie eagled it, and even though the 6,300-yard course was playing long, it took subpar golf to stay in contention after that.
At the end of the first day Carol came in with a 68, and both Mickey and Sandra sank long birdie putts on 18 for 69s. "If I can get the lead," Carol had said the night before, "I think the pressure will be off me. I think I have enough pride to maintain my game." Now she had her lead. On her way to the parking lot she passed two children trying to sell early editions of the
Springfield Daily News. She happily bought all 38 copies so the kids could go home.
In the meantime, Mickey Wright was telling the press, "Carol is in the tight spot, having the lead." Mickey had long ago found that the only time she felt pressure in a tournament was when she was leading. "If you are in front, it's miserable, it's a horrible feeling," she said, "but if you are in contention, say a shot back going into the final round, you feel real joy. Then it's all aggression."
And by dinner Carol was getting uneasy. "Did you know Mickey used a six-iron into the 18th?" Wirtz asked across the beef. "Oh, Lennie, I don't want to know what she used," Carol snapped.
By 9 p.m. the players were in their motel rooms. Wirtz looked down the line of doors and said, "This is the hard time for them. When they are in those rooms. If they go out during the evening and they play badly the next day they blame it on going out, and if they stay in they blame it on staying in."
At 6:30 next morning Mickey was already up eating breakfast. By 7 o'clock she had decided to wash and set her hair to give herself something to do, and she must have done some aggressive thinking under the dryer.
When play began in the afternoon Carol lost her lead with a bogey on 3. A three-way tie held until the 7th, but there Mickey sank a five-foot putt for a birdie and took the lead that she never relinquished. Putting on an unbeatable surge, she birdied 10, 11 and 12 with putts of 12, 15 and eight feet. Now she was smiling and chatting with the crowd that walked along with her. "When you sink putts the way I was sinking them," she said later, "you figure that even if you make a mistake you can make it up." Which is what she did at 17, a 538-yard par-5 on which she clinched the tournament. After a good drive she topped her second shot. It went only about 100 yards. A "worm killer," said a member of the gallery. But her third shot reached the fringe, and from there she hit a spectacular chip into the hole for a birdie 4. With a par on 18, Mickey finished four strokes ahead of Sandra Haynie, who had to sink a 12-foot putt to win the second money of $7,500 and beat Carol by a stroke. Kathy Whitworth finished a stroke behind in fourth, at two under par.