Two rounds into the U.S. Women's Senior Amateur at The Honors Course, Lisa Schlesinger is right where she didn't want to be — on the lead.
“You don't ever want to be the medalist after stroke play,” said the Laytonsville, Md., native on Sunday, just after her second-round 71 gave her a two-day total of 139, seven strokes ahead of runner-up Mary Ann Hayward.
“There's always the curse of the medalist.”
Perhaps, but the former women's professional basketball player and high-level fast-pitch softball player is there anyway, and looking extremely capable of winning it all when match play begins today.
“I started playing when I was in my mid-30s,” said the 53-year-old former University of Maryland hoops standout. “My previous low competitive round was 70, so the hard work is really starting to pay off.”
So is reining in her temper. It seems that Schlesinger's “negative attitude” had gotten so bad a couple of years ago that her closest friends told her if she didn't change, they'd quit playing with her.
“I never threw clubs or anything,” she said. “I'd just get down on myself. I had a hard time controlling my temper.”
But thanks to a family real estate business that allows her to play as much as six times a week, Schlesinger is controlling both herself and the Honors' difficult layout.
Not that she was the only one to find Pete Dye's timeless creation to her liking.
While Mill Valley, Calif., hematologist and oncologist Patricia Cornett struggles to find one free day a week to work on her game, she worked over the Honors pretty good on Sunday, firing a 70 to go with her opening round of 78.
“It's certainly my USGA historic low,” said the 57-year-old Cornett of her Sunday round. “It was just fun to hit the ball well and make a few putts. You get in the groove.”
Her 148 total leaves her tied with defending champ Mina Hardin for third place. Hayward stands all alone in second at 146 (2-over par). Charleston, Tenn.’s, Maggie Scott shot a 79 to move comfortably into match play with a 15-over total of 159. The projected cut was anyone over 163.
“The Honors course has shots out here that are risk-reward,” said Cornett, the 2012 Curtis Cup captain who already misses her husband, two daughters and three dogs — a cocker spaniel, Australian shepherd and St. Bernard — back in northern California.
“In that way it reminds me of Pebble Beach.”
What the Senior Women's Open best reminds us is that not all the great sports stories play out in prime time on ESPN, or in Southeastern Conferenc football stadiums.
Beyond Schlesinger and Cornett, there's 57-year-old Deborah Jamgochian, who once met Arnold Palmer at his Latrobe (Pa.) Country Club when she was 16 and immediately thought, “I'm going to marry him one day.”
Jamgochian never crossed that off her bucket list, but she did shoot a 161 total over the two days to make the cut.
There's Greeley, Colo.’s, Kim Eaton, a former policewoman who once had someone pull up beside her and tell her of underage drinking at a nearby bar. Only trouble was, the man was inebriated, which caused Eaton to arrest him.
Eaton stands at 152 heading into match play.
Then there's Rhonda Glenn, the media coordinator for USGA who was the first woman anchor on ESPN back in 1981.
An award-winning author on women's golf, she's one of the few folks on the planet who can say she's .500 (1-1) against our own legend, Betty Probasco, in match play.
As for ESPN, 30 years later she's not surprised at the network' monstrous success.
“They were very savvy business people, even then,” she said, adding of longtime anchor Chris “The Swami” Berman, “He was loud, but a very sweet guy.”
Glenn, who was last here for the 1994 Curtis Cup, is more than a little sweet on the Honors.
“This place is like a slice of heaven,” she said. “There are no homes on the course. Nature dominates here. It's perfect.”
Yet no one here this week is sweeter than 81-year-old rules official Billy Jean Reasor of Shreveport, La.
Hard as this may be to believe, Reasor — like all other out-of-town USGA volunteers — must pay her own way, including transportation, food, lodging and official golf attire.
Forced to cut an interview short on Sunday to make a ruling, Reasor smiled and said, “Or they might cut out my salary.”
So why do it?
“For the good of the game,” she said.
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...