ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Patty Curtiss not only is a team captain, but president of GJAC
Patty Curtiss had plenty to smile about during Tuesday’s opening round of the Girls Junior America’s Cup at UNM Championship Golf Course.
Her team from the state of Washington is in the hunt, shooting a 7 over par and is in sixth place in the 18-team event – nine shots behind tournament leader Mexico.
And it’s the start of a great week for Curtiss, who is not only Washington’s team captain, but president of the GJAC – and daughter of the late founder. This week represents the culmination of a yearlong effort by her association to stage the international event.
But there’s also another pile of cherries on top of all that.
It’s a major homecoming for Curtiss.
“When I got on the course for (Monday’s) practice round, it was just great,” says Curtiss, who played for the UNM women’s golf team from 1977-81. “It was just really fun to see it again. I was much more involved than I usually am in a practice round. I totally enjoyed it.”
The GJAC features some of the top junior players (ages 13-17) from the Western United States, Canada and Mexico. There are 18 teams, with four players on each. The top three scores count for each day’s team total in the 54-hole tournament, which ends Thursday.
Curtiss, who lives in her native Washington about half the year and the other half in Palm Springs, Calif. – where she is an LPGA teaching pro – says she hasn’t been to Albuquerque since the mid-’90s.
She graduated from UNM in 1983 and got her master’s degree from the University of Oregon as an athletic trainer.
She worked as an athletic trainer while at UNM, and often she thinks about her college days.
“Lobogate,” she says. “I always think about that. I was just talking about it (Monday). That was a crazy time.”
But aside from that scandal that rocked college basketball in 1979-80, Curtiss says she has great memories of playing for UNM, where she was an All-Western Athletic Conference player her last two years.
And there is plenty she misses about Albuquerque.
“Green chile,” she says. “I’ve been able to handle it again – so far, so good. I had a green chile cheeseburger, I’ve had huevos rancheros, and I had it on my burrito in the morning – I miss that!”
Curtiss has been president of the GJAC for four years and was vice president the previous four years. She has served as Washington’s team captain for 14 years.
Her mother, Joan Teats, started the organization in 1978. It rotates sites each year.
“It’s a fantastic tournament,” says UNM women’s golf coach Jill Trujillo, who played in the event when she was a high schooler in Silver City.
“A lot of coaches who come out to recruit played in this when they were juniors. It’s so much fun for the players. When you play for your state, it’s special. It’s like playing for your country.”
TUESDAY’S RESULTS: The Sun Country team is tied for ninth at 13 over and 15 shots back. Sandia Prep’s Klara Castillo and Deming’s Darian Zachek shot 2-over 74s, while Cleveland High’s Dominique Galloway and Deming’s Shelby Turner each shot 81.
“It was a rough day,” Galloway said. “My goal is 70 (today).”
All four of Mexico’s players are in the top 10, including Giovana Maymon and Ana Paula-Valdez, who each shot 1-under 71. They are part of a four-way tie for second individually.
Southern Cal’s Lydia Choi leads at 70, and her team is two shots back in second.