Brooke Pancake was resting in a Scotland hotel when she opened a letter early last month.
The congratulatory note was written and signed by Alabama football coach Nick Saban, who congratulated her on a historic college career that ended with Pancake sinking a putt on the last hole to give Alabama its first women's golf national championship.
"As you know, I love to play golf ... and I most certainly love to win championships!" read part of the note that was later posted to Twitter by Pancake, who was part of the American team of amateurs competing in the Curtis Cup against a team from Great Britain and Ireland.
Pancake, who won a state-record four individual championships while playing for Baylor School, will line up a whole new world of putts this week as she makes her professional debut in the U.S. Women's Open, which begins Thursday at Black Wolf Run Golf Club in Kohler, Wis.
"I want to do well this week," said the 22-year-old Pancake. "It's going to be a whole different aspect being out there and playing professionally.
"I'm in the business world now."
As part of that move, she signed with the Sterling Sports Agency, which represents some of the top LPGA players, including Stacy Lewis, who is No. 3 on the money list.
"We wanted somebody who has the potential to be a top-five player in the world and are good people, and able to work with good people," Sterling agent J.S Kang said. "We think her potential is very high.
"She can play, she's attractive, she's personable and we think she has a big up-side in marketability in the region, in the nation and potentially as a worldwide sponsor."
Pancake, who lost her father, Dr. Bruce Pancake, to suicide during her senior season at Baylor, earned Southeastern Conference female athlete of the year honors last week. She graduated from Alabama with a 4.0 GPA and a marketing degree in May.
"My family has faced a lot of adversity," said Pancake, as she waved to a foursome playing at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club. "But I've had people push me in all aspects of my life. I don't want to let anybody down."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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