Sarah LeBrun Ingram has her priorities in order. It seems as though it always has been that way for the Baltimore native.
Whatever drew her attention -- family, horses, golf, academics -- there was a focus on the interest at hand.
That's why this week is so important to her. She is a repeat selection for the United States in the 28th Curtis Cup competition. The matches will be played today and tomorrow at The Honors Course outside Chattanooga, Tenn.
Ingram, bothered by a muscle spasm in her neck and left shoulder, was bypassed for this morning's singles matches.
Ingram, who developed the problem Tuesday, has been receiving physical therapy three times a day, and on the eve of the matches pronounced herself "better than I have been." She managed to hit balls and play a few holes earlier in the day.
"I'm not going to play if I can't give it my best," she said.
It is likely, however, that she will play at least one of the two sessions tomorrow. Team captain Lancy Smith didn't have to announce her pairings for the afternoon foursomes until after the singles, so it is possible Ingram could be used this afternoon, depending upon how she feels.
"As long as I've been interested in golf, I have wanted to play Curtis Cup," said Ingram, 28. "It's the only real goal I've had."
The goal was achieved two years ago when she was chosen for the first time. She is polite and says the proper things about that experience, but it was not an overly happy occasion.
That's why this week is important. It figures to be a happier time, making the social as well as the competitive scene more meaningful. Additionally, the matches are in Tennessee, her home state since her marriage to David Ingram and a move to Nashville, Tenn., in the fall of 1990.
The two met while students at Duke University, and while Sarah pursues interests in golf and horses (she owns three), David works as a vice president for his father's company, one that distributes books, videos and computer equipment.
"From the point of something you have worked for your whole life, I want to play well in the matches -- the way I can. Right now, I'm pretty close to the way I know I can play," Ingram said.
Last week, at the U.S. Women's Open, where she was one of three amateurs to make the cut, she shot 297 and tied for 57th place.
Rated the No. 1 amateur in women's golf for much of the last couple of years, her 1993 credentials included winning a second U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title and reaching the final of the U.S. Women's Amateur, where she came back from four down to lose on the 36th green.
Ingram and Carol Semple Thompson, with a record-tying eighth selection, are the only ones to have played in previous Curtis Cup competition.
That experience will stand Ingram in good stead. In 1992, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, she and Leslie Shannon lost in foursomes (alternate shots) the first morning; team captain Judy Oliver sat her out for the next two matches; and she won a final singles test in what turned out to be a 10-8 U.S. loss.
What rankles is that she was playing so well at the time, and sitting down under those circumstances was tough.
There was something special about it too, because her mother is English, and Ingram had played in British Junior and British Stroke Play championships in the past.
"It was very difficult to go back to the first tee in front of 10,000 people," she said. "A lot of things went through my head; then I went out and won the match."
Golf hasn't always been a focal point for Ingram, nor is it expected to be in the future. The older of two daughters of Henry and Gillian LeBrun (who live in Owings Mills), it is a close-knit family. And starting a family of their own is a priority for the Ingrams.
"Horses were my first love," Ingram said. "I rode from age 4 to 11, but then got interested in golf . I rode one year in school [Garrison Forest], but quit."
What with school, college and golf, Ingram did not ride for 13 years. Then, after her marriage, with in-laws involved with horses, she renewed her interest.
"Actually, five rides later, we went to Kentucky and brought home a horse . And my brother-in-law gave me two.
"I love horses, but they are for pleasure and I ride for fun. Still, considering my competitive nature, the next thing was to get into shows. It's at the local level, and I'm definitely a beginner."
For this weekend, though, Ingram is determined to go out and play golf to the best of her ability. After that, "I don't know about the future. We'll just have to see what happens."