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Original Issue

Reckless win for a junior miss

Mary Lowell, a sturdy 17-year-old who fired her father as pro, played daring golf last week to take the girls' championship

All last week Seattle's Broadmoor Golf Club echoed with sounds of girlish squeals, popping bubble gum and the sort of protective gallery rooting seldom heard at any other tournament. This was the 13th annual Girls' Junior Golf Championship, and somehow it was entirely fitting to watch its competitors shoot hard, disciplined, pressure golf, then retire from the spotlight to practice flipping their Yo-yos.

Yo-yos were the fad this year. So were the strange, floppy-brimmed Tennessee Ernie rain hats, which caught the fancy of the 69 girls who started the week's play. All 17 or under, the girls delighted the Broadmoor golf colony, but most of all they delighted George Howard, the veteran club professional.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "These girls are courteous, they play fast and their etiquette would shame many adults. You see them out there, studying, concentrating, trying to beat each other under God knows what tension. Then when it's over they're kids again."

Broadmoor is a snug, 6,270-yard layout of rich grass, intruding trees and variable terrain. A bit short for men, it is the kind of course pros feast on (Byron Nelson shot what was once a world's record 259 there). But Broadmoor is ideal for women. It asks a variety of skills from its shooters, and last week it provided a liberal education to these youngsters from 18 states and Canada.

The two girls in the finals, appropriately enough, were a pair of 17-year-olds who could deliver the balanced, steady game required at Broadmoor. And the final, just as appropriately, wasn't decided until the 18th hole of a beautifully played match when Mary Lowell, a stocky, red-haired bundle of power from Hayward, Calif., sank a three-foot putt to defeat Margaret (Maggie) Martin of St. Clairsville, Ohio 1 up.

Mary Lowell is a product of Alameda Municipal Course, where her father, Gus Lowell, is an assistant pro, but he takes no credit for her development. "I had to fire him," she says, grinning. "He started me out when I was 10 years old, but five years ago I told him to quit caddying for me. I didn't want to use him for a crutch. I just couldn't have him next to me all the time, telling me what shot to hit and how to hit it."

If her father doesn't always stay completely away, he does at times keep out of sight. During the championship final he hid out in the clubhouse. "I'm too nervous," he told friends, "and she might see me and get upset."

A senior at Hay ward's Tennyson High School, Mary is a straight-A student, with intellectual leanings toward political science. Her golfing ambition, like the game she plays, is simple and uncomplicated: "I just want to be the best amateur I can possibly be. Nothing professional for me."

To reach the finals, Miss Lowell defeated one of the gallery favorites, Judy Torluemke of St. Louis (SI, Aug. 21), whose expressive good looks kept a cluster of photographers puffing at her heels all week. Judy's unorthodox grip appalled the experts, who predicted—somewhat inaccurately, as it turned out—that her game would fall apart under pressure. Actually, Miss Torluemke's game remained steady, up to and including her semifinal defeat by Miss Lowell. "She outdrove me all day," said Mary, "but she couldn't sink her putts."

Miss Torluemke lost out to the new champion in a back-and-forth match that saw each hold and lose a 2-up advantage, then come into the final green on even terms. Mary carded an easy par 5, but Judy was short and to the right on a seven-foot putt that would have sent the match into extra holes.

"No one part of my game went to pieces," said Judy. "But I missed a five-foot putt on the 17th that would have given me the hole. Then I missed that seven-footer on the 18th. That was it."

Maggie Martin played superbly in her first big tournament. A rangy brunette with a Hoganlike ability to concentrate, she survived some early putting trouble, then defeated Tulsa's Jeannie Thompson 1 up, to enter the championship round against Mary Lowell.

It was a curious clash of opposites, played through damp-heavy morning air. Mary Lowell thinks aggressively and attacks the ball with a no-nonsense attitude. "I don't like to waste time over shots," she says. "The only shot that slows me is a putt I have to study."

Where Mary Lowell's swing fairly crackled, Maggie Martin's seemed almost languid. Miss Martin is 5 feet 8 inches tall and strides along with an easy, boyish grace, but she doesn't seem to have the strength to hit a ball for distance, and in the final she was consistently outdriven by the eventual new champion. The contrast between the two became particularly evident late in the match. Despite falling 3 down at the 14th, Miss Martin continued to play a cautious, conservative game.

It was clearly a time for defensive golf on the part of Miss Lowell, but she continued to attack, and this nearly cost her the match. Recklessly, she lifted her second shot into a bunker some 40 yards short of the 15th green, costing her a bogey and the hole. Again, on the 16th, she underclubbed and wound up in sand. A front-runner's caution in each case could have saved Mary from the anguish of the 18th, where Miss Martin almost sent the match into extra holes.

Both girls hit identically safe drives on the 500-yard closing hole. A neatly struck pitch that hit the green and rolled to the back apron left Miss Lowell's ball some 18 feet from the flag. On her approach the placid Miss Martin "skulled" the shot badly, but it hit the slope fronting the green and wound up, miraculously, about 3½ feet from the cup.

Mary Lowell's putt from the apron was three feet short. Maggie Martin carefully studied the birdie putt that could send the match into extra holes. She sighted, stroked and audibly muttered, "Oh, darn!" as the ball caught the right side of the cup and jumped out.

Mary Lowell studied her final putt for an unusually long time. Taking a heavy deep breath, she pursed her lips, addressed the ball and dropped it in cleanly. The greens exploded. Rain hats went into the air, bubble gum popped, and it was time, once more, for Yo-yos. They were kids again.