Mike Baldoza Wins 1973 World Championship

By Howard Ward
Sports Editor, The Fayetteville Observer

Tulsa, OK - August 1973 - Mike Baldoza, an 18-year-old pro from Fort Worth, Texas, putted his way to instant fame and fortune with a stunning, 7 and 6 victory over Charles McIntosh in the finals of the 1973 World Putting Championship held in Tulsa, Oklahoma August 12-15, 1973.

Baldoza, tabbed for stardom by his fellow pros since his debut from the amateur ranks two years ago, earned $50,000 for his first-place share of the $320,000 purse. McIntosh, a veteran pro from Decatur, Georgia, won $10,000.

The victory by Baldoza was no real surprise in itself as he is known to possess one of the best strokes on the PPA tour. But the ease with which he handled the more experienced McIntosh was almost shocking.

The 5-5, 130-pounder, known as "Mini-Mex," moved into the driver's seat with wins on the first two holes and was never caught. McIntosh appeared tight at the start, suffering from poor speed on his putts, and was never able to appreciably cut into Baldoza's lead.

"The quick lead turned the match in my favor and all I had to do from there on in was just play my game," the elated Baldoza said. "I was striking the ball real well ... never stroked it any better in my life."

"Winning $50,000 is beautiful. I really don't know what I'll do with the money yet. I'll probably get a new car but I haven't even thought about what kind. I may go to college now. I couldn't afford it before but this may change things. The first thing I'm going to do is take a good long rest."

McIntosh, a 13-year veteran of the PPA at 32, took the loss in stride despite the obvious disappointment. This marked the second time he had lost the World Championship in the final match, taking Rick Smith to the last hole before bowing last year.

"I'm disappointed of course," he said, "but I'm really lucky to just get this far. There are a lot of good putters who didn't make it. The money is just incidental to me, but I really wanted the championship."

"You have to be realistic, though. You can't go out and play a super round every time. My speed was off and my mark had been erased on a couple of holes, forcing me to guess. That's all Mike needed."

Baldoza reached the finals by eliminating Daryl Freeman of Bristol, Tennessee in the quarter-finals and disposing of Gerald Knott of Dallas, Texas, in the semis.

McIntosh defeated former World Champion Vance Randall of Chattanooga, Tennessee in the first round, then knocked off David Gies of Fayetteville, North Carolina in the second match.

In other first round action which paid the loser $3,000, Gies ousted Bill Thompson of Jacksonville, Florida and Knott defeated Gary English of Orlando, Florida. Gies and Knott earned $5,000 each for making it to the semifinals.

While the $320,000 World Putting Championship was grabbing most of the headlines, there was plenty of other activity taking place at Sam Torn's Putt-Putt Golf Course in Tulsa during the week.

Ricky Myatt, a 14 year-old 95-pound mite from Fayetteville, North Carolina, putted his way to the World Amateur title after fate had given him a berth in the final eight.

Getting into the finals after the man who had ousted him in the Southern Regional finals, Wayne Williamson, had broken an ankle, Myatt took no more chances. He turned back Chuck Stanton of Orlando, Florida in the semifinals, 1-up, then topped Randall Orr of Chattanooga, Tennessee for the championship, 3 and 2.

"This is great but it's hard to believe," Myatt said. "I kind of feel like it's all a dream."

Myatt's victory marked the third time in three years that a putter from Fayetteville has won a major amateur title. Two years ago Billy Kirby won the World Amateur Championship while only last year, David Gies won the 1972 National Amateur crown.

All score, statistics and descriptions taken from the Putt-Putt World, Volume 15, Number 8, October, 1973.

 

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