That night Catherine called her parents, as she did every evening, to report that France was conquering just as it had at Forest Hills in Daddy's day, and then she spent some time giving a small girl a horseback ride around the Cascades Inn. But life was less relaxed elsewhere. Mickey Wright, shaken over her 80, was smoking furiously. "I've done everything but whiff the ball," she said, inhaling deeply. "I'm not going to try to kick this until the winter. It's no use fighting it and playing golf at the same time."
There was considerable feeling, understandably, that Saturday would see a different Lacoste. The name of Marty Fleckman, the amateur who led the Men's Open two weeks ago and eventually blew to an 80, kept coming up. There was also a technical reason for hope. It had been observed that as grooved as Miss Lacoste was with almost every other shot, she seemed to go to a different swing when hitting a driver, a wild Gary Player type of swoop and slap that would be hard to control under pressure.
When Miss Lacoste went four over par on the front nine Saturday afternoon the I-told-you-so smirks began to appear. But two hours later they had turned to we're-dead frowns. Miss Lacoste had rallied with a 34 and had her five-stroke lead once again. With that, most of the pros did not bother to go to the practice tee after completing their Saturday rounds, and Mickey Wright was headed west, having dropped out after receiving news of her half brother's death.
"Mickey is the one who could have made a charge," said Carol Mann, "but she won't even be here tomorrow. Everyone else is completely out of it. I really don't think that girl knows what she is doing. She is beating the best professional golfers in the world, that's all."
She was also dancing a wild Charleston at her hotel that night.
Miss Lacoste has a theory about the game, and on Sunday it was put to a severe test. "With amateurs, golf is all psychology," she says. "You can't let anything disturb you. If you have your game and you play it, everything will go well."
In the end, it was playing her game that won for her. When Margie Masters, the Australian who was in second place, double-bogied the first hole, Miss Lacoste had a seven-stroke lead. Then she let it slip away with a long string of bogeys, six in seven holes.
By the time she reached 17 she was only one stroke ahead, but then she must have remembered to play her own game. She hit a wonderfully bold eight-iron over a pond and right at the pin, which was tight to the water. The ball stopped six feet from the hole, and she rammed the birdie putt in so hard it bounced into the air before dropping.
On 18, a par 3 that is again over water, she came through with a very crisp iron that backed up sharply on the rain-soaked green. A 24-footer was just short, and she tapped the ball in and broke into tears. Then she signed her card and rushed to phone her parents. "I told them I played like a clod all day," she said. "They just told me, 'Bravo.' "
Minutes later Rene's daughter, composed again, was being presented with the USGA's big silver trophy. More or less unnoticed in the victory celebration was the $5,000 winner's check. It, along with second-place money, was unobtrusively handed to the top professionals, Misses Maxwell and Stone, but then one should not get excited about money in a sport dominated by an amateur.