Last summer, near Minneapolis, Hollis Stacy defeated Nancy Lopez by two strokes to win the 25th U.S. Women's Open.
This past weekend, in Indianapolis, Stacy finished six strokes ahead of Lopez in the "Nancy Lopez Invitational," an event better known as the 26th U.S. Women's Open. So much had happened in one year, Lopez captured seven tournaments, including five in a row, to become a national celebrity while Stacy struggled on the LPGA tour.
There was no comparison between the coverage given the 25th and 26th Opens. Lopez had seen to that. She put women's golf on the sporting map - and gave Stacy an opportunity to gain national recognition.
The two young women appear to be quite different in their life styles and their approaches to the game.
Lopez is 21. Her father, who has only a third-grade education, owns an automobile body shop in Roswell, N.M. He began teaching Nancy golf when she was 8. He never permitted his daughter to do the dishes at home. "These hands," he told his wife, "are meant for golf."
Stacy, 24, is the fourth-oldest child in a Savannah, Ga., family of 10. She didn't want to do the dishes, either, until her mother, Tilly, ordered: "Get yourself into the kitchen and start wiping."
But Stacy still found time to win three straight national junior titles, beginning in 1969. She was the Georgia Amateur champion that year, at 15, and she had twice been the Savannah city champion in 1967 and 1968.
Lopez seems quiet, relaxed, extremely sure of herself at all times.
"I have never seen a young player with such confidence, on and off the course," the great Mickey Wright emphasized again last week.
"I alwaays believe I can win, even when I'm eight behind," Lopez said after Saturday's horrendous 79. "I've done it before."
While both women are about the same height, Stacy is chubby whereas Lopez is compact. Lopez is exceptionally strong out of the rough, long and low off the tee (a la Trevino) and perfectly prim and proper on the greens, always tucking her skirt neatly when she lines up a putt. She is "la condesa."
Stacy, by comparison, is something of a free spirit, although not as much as she occasionally pretends. She dresses with as much care and attention as Lopez, but sshe doesn't wear a visor to protect her wash-and-wear curls. This is a free-wheeling young "Annie" who obviously enjoys living, has a ready wit, and occasionally likes to hide the fact that she is the toughest competitor among the young players on the tour.
"In a family of 10 you learn not to give anything away.," a friend of Hollis' said Sunday. "That's the way she play golf. You have to beat her. She is not going to help you win, whether you're JoAnne Carner, Jane Blalock or Nancy Lopez.
Carner was the only one close enough to try, in Sunday's final round. The veteran tried, throwing birdie-birdie-birdie at Stacy with irons tight to the stick on three, four and five.
Then play was interrupted for the second time withhin two hours. The first delay was caused by a thunderstorm shortly before the last twosome had teed off. The second stoppage might have been called a little prematurely, although one thundderclap and one stroke of lightning were reported.
Lopez probably will be better off when some of the attention she had been receiving lately wears off, although she handled all the hoopla admirably.
As for Hollis Stacy? Well, she has never won five tournamentts in a row. She has won only five in five years as a pro. But two of those happened to have been the U.S. Open, back-to-back, which stands as a pretty good accomplishment in its own right.
"I think JoAnne and I had a helluva match," Stacy said. "I really hit my one-iron fat on the last tee and JoAnne really 'swayed' with her three-iron right after that, but we both recovered and got up and down for par when we had to."
"I'm going home to Savannah to rest for a week," Stacy informed.
"We understand there's going to be a special celebration," a reporter said.
"Wonderful," Hollis replied. "What is it?"
"We don't know, but they say your father's involved."
"It beats me," she replied. "The only thing going on back home I know about is my sister is getting married."
Hollis Stacy continued to be puzzled for a moment, then flashed her peachiest Georgia smile and blurted; "Of course, for my father, that might really be a reason to celebrate."