For Mickey Wright, even the winning no longer seemed especially important. Deliberately forfeiting her preeminent position in women's golf as her interests have expanded into other areas, she has been competing infrequently for the past couple of years. She has found domestic tranquillity around her new house in Dallas, where she raises periwinkles in the courtyard. "I know it's wrong to be doing something you're not all gung-ho and excited about, but that's the way it is," she said at Springfield. "My feeling here is just that the $3,000 for sixth place isn't bad pay for a week's work. That's a horribly unproductive attitude, but I have so little drive left to push myself at all. Even my swing has become strange and unfamiliar. My feelings here are just a culmination of my attitude on the tour."
Of all the participants, probably the most surprising was 20-year-old Sandra Post. A sprightly redhead from Canada who learned the game from her father at home in Oakville, Ont. and on their yearly vacations in Florida, Miss Post joined the tour just last March. Four months later she was LPGA champion when she beat Miss Whitworth in an 18-hole playoff by seven strokes.
"I was lucky," she says. "You have to be lucky to shoot a 68 and chip in twice. I knocked in one blind shot from the other side of a hill, 50 yards away."
"Post-O never gets tense about anything," said her roommate on tour, Renee Powell, who drove down from her home in East Canton, Ohio to watch the tournament. "She won't choke up here."
Indeed, Miss Post won most of the Springfield hearts available when she took an early lead in the first round with a birdie on the 2nd hole. Playing with Whitworth and Haynie, she remained one under par until she bogeyed the 9th and then fell back of Miss Whitworth, who was three under.
At that point it appeared as if the threesomes were playing two separate tournaments. Up ahead of the leaders, Miss Mann had run into three straight bogeys and Miss Wright had an eight on No. 4, after hitting out of bounds. She never did recover, ending the day with a 78. "She looks like she just doesn't care," said one onlooker. Others agreed. Miss Mann made a furious charge at the end of the day by finishing birdie, birdie, eagle for a two-under par 70. Kathy Whitworth led with 69, and Sandra Haynie came in at even par 72. The two newcomers, Post-O and Susie Berning, both finished with 73s.
"I like my position," Miss Mann said, while practicing her chipping and putting for an hour after everybody else had gone home. "I get to play offense now, and Kathy's on the defensive. I play better that way."
The next day Miss Mann passed Miss Whitworth early, but she bogeyed 10 when her tee shot went under a tree and 13 when she hit into the sand. Miss Whitworth, meanwhile, birdied 10, 11 and 13, and that was the tournament as she finished four strokes in the lead with a 138 total. The winner's victory check was presented by Mayor Betty Brunk. In Springfield, you see, winners and mayors are ladies.