Four-time Tennessee state champion. First-team All-American. Three-time All-American Scholar.
And now the first Chattanooga native to be named to a United States Curtis Cup team.
Former Baylor School star Brooke Pancake, a University of Alabama senior, learned Tuesday morning that she would be part of the American contingent for the biennial women’s amateur golf competition against Great Britain and Ireland in 2012. She couldn’t imagine a better Christmas present.
“I was hoping I was being considered, but I was still totally surprised,” the 21-year-old said Friday.
In the Alabama release about the honor, Pancake said she had dreamed of playing in the Curtis Cup “since I started playing college golf. ... I can’t wait to represent my country. It’s the biggest honor of my amateur career, and a perfect way to finish my time at Alabama.”
The team and singles match-play event is set for June 8-10 at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland.
One of the other four players announced Wednesday by the USGA also has a local connection, as 2011 NCAA champion Austin Ernst of LSU won the 2007 AJGA Ringgold Telephone tournament at WindStone. She and Pancake reached the semifinals of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in August.
Also named were North Dakota State junior Amy Anderson, Duke junior Lindy Duncan and UCLA junior Tiffany Lua, who played in the 2010 Curtis Cup. Three teammates will be added in January.
Pancake said some USGA members asked her at the Women’s Amateur if she planned to turn pro as soon as she finished her Crimson Tide career this spring or if she might keep herself available for the Curtis Cup, but she emphasized that no one told her she was a candidate.
“I think the U.S. Am helped a lot, because that was match play and I did well there, but I’ve been playing fairly solid the past year,” she said. “I think it was a combination of everything. They’re out watching all the time.”
The U.S. captain, Patricia Cornett, said as much in the USGA announcement release, when she called all five “outstanding young women” as well as exceptional golfers.
“I had the great pleasure of watching these players over the past year and am confident they will represent the USA in exemplary fashion,” Cornett said.
After receiving All-America honorable mention from the National Golf Coaches Association in 2010, Pancake was a first-team NSGA and Golfweek choice last spring, when she also got the Edith Cummings Munson Award as the All-American with the highest grade point average.
Two women with long Chattanooga ties, Judy Eller Street and Betty Probasco, have Curtis Cup backgrounds, but both began their golf greatness elsewhere.
Street played in two Curtis Cups, 1960 and ’62, but grew up in Old Hickory, Tenn., and was 19 in her first appearance. She won a national college championship at Miami and returned to college golf in her 60s at Barry University.
Probasco had earned acclaim in Kentucky before marrying and moving to Chattanooga. She, too, was a national college champion — with Rollins in 1950. She earned a spot on the 1956 Curtis Cup squad but had to pass it up because she was carrying her first child. She was the non-playing U.S. captain in 1982.
The Honors Course in Ooltewah hosted the 1994 Curtis Cup in the series the Americans lead 27-6-3, but Pancake is the first born-and-raised Chattanoogan to participate.
Asked Friday if that made her even prouder, she said, “Oh, it’s special just to be on the team. Nothing can make it more special.”