CEDAR RAPIDS — In her near half-century of amateur golf, Mary Budke has seen more than her share of courses.
In her first trip to the Cedar Rapids Country Club, Budke came away impressed.
“Well I am a Donald Ross fan,” Budke said after the first round of stroke play at the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on Saturday. “They (United States Golf Association) play such a wide array of different courses. Certainly it is comparable. I have a handful of favorites, but this is pretty close.”
Ross (1872-1948) was a Scottish golf course architect whose designs were implemented in golf courses in four Canadian provinces and 31 American states, including the Cedar Rapids Country Club.
Budke finished the first round with a 9-over par 81, which is tied for 55th place.
This is the first USGA event ever held in Cedar Rapids. Sherry Wright of Oxnard, Calif., is atop the leaderboard with a 3-under 69.
The top 64 players after Sunday’s second round advance to the match-play portion of the tournament, which runs Monday through Thursday.
“It’s difficult,” Budke said. “The greens are tough. It is really more the pressure of playing, but I love the golf course. We played late and the winds started to blow and then the greens are beat up pretty good, but it’s great. It’s beautiful.”
Budke, 65, is a resident of Palm Springs, Calif. She won the 1972 U.S. Amateur Championship at St. Louis shortly before her freshman year at Oregon State University. While she continued to participate in USGA events throughout the last 47 years, her professional ambitions were already determined before she set foot in St. Louis.
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“The week before I won the U.S. Amateur, I decided to go into medicine,” said Budke, who was an emergency room physician in Los Angeles, New York and Eugene, Ore., before she retired eight years ago. “I just never played and competed that much. I played some. I play more now because I am retired.”
Budke — a member of both the Oregon Golf Hall of Fame and the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame — is the only golfer in the field that owns a U.S. Amateur title and is one of three to have represented her home country in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (1972, won by the USA at Buenos Aires). Budke has also played for (1974) and captained (2002) victorious USA teams in the Curtis Cup, perhaps the most well-known team trophy in amateur women's golf.
For the first 15 years she was eligible for the Women’s Senior Amateur Championship, Budke received an exemption based on her U.S. Amateur title. This was the first year she did not possess an exemption.
She qualified anyway.
“I feel like I belong here, but I am not really one who could win,” Budke said. “I am going to have to scrape. I would like to make the cut and win a match or two.”
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