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SEPTEMBER
9

 

1966 Mickey Wright wins the first Ladies World Series of Golf at Springfield Country Club, Ohio, and with it a cheque for $10,000, by far the biggest prize in women's golf at the time. (Just a month earlier the biggest cheque to date of $3,750 had been awarded.) The tournament was the brainchild of 13 local businessmen who had formed an investors club seven years before, and foresaw huge future pickings from TV rights and sponsorships if they could create a big name event. They invited a field of just six of the best women golfers of the day - the four current major champions and the money list leaders.
The size of the prizes had everyone, including the players, incredulous - even last place here was worth more than almost any other women's first prize. It also made them very nervous, and the first hole of the 36 hole event was shambolic, with drives into deep rough and topped shots; only some inspired scrambling allowed the six players to come away with three pars and three bogeys.
Trailing by one after a first round 69, Wright pulled away from the field with three birdies from the 10th to 12th in the second round, going on to win by four shots from Sandra Haynie, despite cold-topping her second shot barely 100 yards on the 17th. Coincidentally, Wright had won the then biggest purse in golf exactly eight years to the day in 1958.
The 13 businessmen reckoned they had lost $20,000 on the event and it was only played twice more - both times won by Kathy Whitworth. In 1980 the concept of an elite field ladies event was revived by Mark McCormack as the World Series of Women's Golf, which lasted until 2009, when it had become the Samsung World Championship.

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