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In the first round Lacoste was paired with two of the LPGA's leading money-winners, Carol Mann and Marilynn Smith. Both pros wore fittingly patriotic red, white and blue outfits, but it was Carol who was dressed to kill. Resplendent in red blouse, white-lace stockings and blue mini-culottes, the 6'3" blonde looked like the American flag, or, as Lennie Wirtz put it, "the flag and the flagpole."
She was quite obviously the gallery favorite, and for the first day at least she played as if she could win the championship, finishing with an even-par 71. Lacoste, despite bogeys on the last two holes, shot a respectable 74. At the press conference which followed their round, Carol mentioned that the winner of the Open, "presuming, of course, that it is a professional," would be eligible to compete in the $35,000 World Series of Golf to be held in Springfield, Ohio in late August. Catherine couldn't resist a rub. "May I ask what you did about last year?" she inquired with a mischievous glint.
"We have ways of coping," Carol retorted.
Meanwhile, on the course in the late afternoon heat, Susie Maxwell Berning was shooting a two-under-par 69. Because she was a bride of only seven weeks, her married name was unfamiliar to the spectators watching the scoreboards. As a matter of fact, for a while it had even confused the pros. The first week she was back on the tour after her wedding she was paired one day with Mickey Wright and Sandra Spuzich. The night before, Susie happened to meet Sandra.
"Well, see you on the first tomorrow, Spuz," she said.
"No, you won't," said Sandra. "I'm playing with Mickey and an amateur called Berning."
On Thursday at times, Susie's gallery numbered only one, her husband Dale, whose cigars she carried in her golf bag, dispensing them to him throughout the tournament. When they met two years ago, Dale was a salesman for National Cash Register and, as he describes it, he picked her up at a golf tournament in Cincinnati and bought her a beer. Later he was transferred to San Francisco, and she now wears a gold cable-car charm around her neck, a memento of the days when she would win a tournament and could afford to fly to San Francisco for a date.
Friday was the day everyone went home from Moselem Springs mad—even Susie, who shot a 73, but bogeyed the last three holes. Susie now led her closest competitor, Murle Lindstrom, by four shots. Mickey Wright and Catherine Lacoste shot 78s and the defending champ was now 10 shots over par and had eliminated herself. Carol had a 76, picking up a penalty stroke for marking and cleaning her ball when continuous putting rules were in effect.
At a press conference Lacoste tilted back her chair and said, "All right, gentlemen. You asked to see me. What do you want to hear?" Why had she bogeyed the final two holes for the second round in a row? "I didn't have any arms or legs left," she declared. "I was a bit fed up with the game. It was a very long game, and you Americans play very slowly." Harrumph.
What slowed the Mann- Lacoste- Marilynn Smith pairing and actually stopped it for a while was Catherine herself. On 17 she had hit into some TV cables and rather than take the responsibility for moving the cables and making a free drop she demanded a ruling by a USGA official. After a couple of minutes, Catherine was complaining at the tardiness of the official. "Oh, relax," Marilynn Smith told her. "It'll give me time to put on some lipstick." Another three or four minutes. Catherine paced angrily. "Wait till you're my age, baby," Marilynn Smith told her and went off to sit on her shooting stick.