Chattanooga, Tenn. – For a once-a-week golfer, Pat Cornett, 57, of Mill Valley, Calif., had quite a good round. Cornett’s second-round 70, two under par, gave her a 36-hole total of 4-over-par 148, good enough for a seventh place tie among early finishers in USGA Senior Women’s Amateur qualifying.
“It’s certainly my USGA historic low,” laughed Cornett. “It just was fun to hit the ball well and make a few putts. You get in a groove.”
Cornett isn’t just any once-a-week golfer. A lifelong amateur, she’s made a mark in American women’s golf. In 1987, she was runner-up in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. She’s recorded several high finishes in the U.S. Women’s Amateur and is a Women’s Western Amateur champion. Those feats landed her on USA Curtis Cup Teams in 1978 and 1988.
Add to that her career as an oncologist and maintaining a home for her two daughters with her husband Mike Iker, and Cornett finds that playing golf is a luxury. Once a week, sometimes twice, she and Mike, who has an 8 handicap index, feel lucky to head out for a round of golf.
Cornett now has another pressing assignment: She’s captain of the 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team, which will play its biennial match against a team from Great Britain & Ireland next June in Nairn, Scotland. Last month, Cornett attended the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rhode Island Country Club in Providence to scout potential American players.
But this week is all about Pat and her own return to competitive golf. With stroke-play qualifying behind her, virtually assured of a slot in match play, Cornett can’t wait.
“I feel more comfortable in match play than stroke play, quite honestly,” Cornett said.
Few would be surprised to see Cornett do well here. Like a retired fire horse who hears the alarm bell, she’s ready for the race.
If not, she’s already had a great trip. “I’ve really enjoyed The Honors Course,” Cornett said. “It’s got shots out here that are risk-reward. You could compare it in that way to Pebble Beach.”
For now, Cornett isn’t giving much thought to her Northern California home or her medical practice or even the Curtis Cup Team. For Cornett, as for every other contestant here, this is an opportunity for her light to shine, if only for a short while.