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Former Ridgefields pro Cook makes U.S. Senior Women's open field

Joe Avento • May 2, 2019 at 12:42 AM

Nodja Cook wanted to see where her golf game stacked up after she turned 50.

She got her answer in a big and exciting way. It’s still pretty darn good.

Cook, former professional at Ridgefields Country Club who now lives in Indiana, qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open by winning a qualifying tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

“Honestly, I turned 50 last summer and I wanted to see if I still have the mojo, if I can still go out and play and compete,” Cook said.

Even though Cook went to the qualifier with few expectations, her game was steady. Five birdies led to a two-over-par round that put her at the top of the leaderboard when she finished.

“I was like ‘I still have it,’ ” said Cook, now the head professional at Harrison Lake Country Club in Columbus, Indiana. “It was a Donald Ross course and I was very comfortable. It was very nice.”

Afterward, as she watched the scores come in, Cook expected to be in a playoff. But when the final score was posted, she was still on top as medalist in a USGA event, quite an accomplishment for any golfer.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s going to be such an honor to play among some of the greatest senior women’s golfers. Throughout my whole career as a female golf professional, when I was in the Tri-Cities, the guys embraced me, as well as in Florida and in the Indiana Section. I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for Ridgefields and the Tri-Cities.”

Cook also spent some time teaching at Johnson City Country Club. Among her numerous awards while she was in Tennessee was the 2010 Tri-Cities professional of the year award. She was chosen the top local teacher three times.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Open will be played May 16-19 at Pine Needles Golf Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The tournament is in its second year of existence. Laura Davies won the inaugural event last year. Eleven former U.S. Women’s Open champions will be in the field.

“First and foremost, I just want to go out and have fun,” Cook said. “Whatever happens, happens. Obviously, I would like to do well to represent all of those I have touched in my years of teaching. I just want to have fun and see if I still have it. If i make the cut that would be better.

“You just never know. Thats what golf is, up and down. I’m going to have the same mindset I did going into the qualifier. No expectations and go have fun. Let’s see where my game takes me.”


Two good weeks has Seamus Power shooting up the FedEx Cup points list.

Power, who won five tournaments at East Tennessee State, had missed 11 cuts in his first 15 events in his third year on the PGA Tour. Then he found something and has earned $421,406 in the past two weeks.

First he tied for sixth in the RBC Heritage Classic in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Then last weekend he teamed with David Hearn to finish tied for fifth at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans.

Power tees it up on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. He’ll be in a comfortable threesome. Along with Ollie Schniederjans, Power will be playing with Hearn, his partner from a week ago.

They are in the first group and go off at 7 a.m.


ETSU’s Hee Ying Loy and Tereza Melecka will be in the field at the NCAA’s East Lansing Regional next week in Michigan.

They became the first teammates in ETSU history to qualify for the NCAA tournament as individuals.

The regional, one of four across the country, will be played Monday through Wednesday. A total of 72 teams and 24 individuals are competing for spots in the NCAA Championship.


Addie Baggarly of Jonesborough will be playing in the women’s NCAA tournament as well. Baggarly is one of the top players at Florida, where she won a tournament and posted the team’s low 54-hole total as a sophomore.

Florida is the third seed in the Norman (Okla.) Regional.


Reigning state high school girls’ champion Isabella van der Biest of Kingsport teamed with Sophia Burnett of Blufton, South Carolina, to make match play in the U.S. Women’s Fourball Championship last week at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two shot four under par through two rounds of stroke play to qualify 15th. They won their first match before falling 1-up in the round of 16.

It was the second USGA event for van der Biest, who has committed to play at Alabama.


Kingsport’s James Beckner will finish his college career at the NCAA tournament. Beckner’s Middle Tennessee State team won the Conference USA championship and he played a key role, winning his match in the finals as MTSU beat Texas-San Antonio 3-2 in the match play format. That earned the Blue Raiders a regional bid.

Beckner was a Conference USA All-Academic selection for the second year in a row. He has a 4.0 GPA and is majoring in biology.