Charley Hull will play in this year’s Curtis Cup after all, after a dramatic turn by the Ladies' Golf Union. The 16-year-old English player was named today to the Great Britain & Ireland team to take on the United States at Nairn, Scotland, on June 8-10 despite the LGU's previously having stated that she would not be considered for selection.
Hull initially and controversially was de-selected after opting to play in this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major championship of the season, rather than travel to a Curtis Cup team trial at Nairn last weekend. Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of golf operations, previously made it clear to Golfweek that Hull would not be selected. The LGU stance drew widespread criticism.
However, common sense has prevailed and the member of Woburn Golf Club - Ian Poulter’s home club - has been named to the team. Hull won this year’s Harder Hall Invitational and is the highest-ranked GB&I player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, at No. 7.
In a news release, the LGU explained its decision: “The surprise selection of the Woburn 16-year-old – she had her birthday on March 20 – was confirmed when the Selection Panel overturned its original requirement that the terms of the player agreement to attend the team trial must be complied with.”
Stephanie Meadow will also make her Curtis Cup debut after being selected as one of the eight players. The University of Alabama player is one of five rookies in the Great Britain & Ireland team.
England’s Holly Clyburn, Northern Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell are the only three returnees from the 2010 team that lost at Essex County Club in Massachusetts.
Amy Boulden of Wales and English players Kelly Tidy and Bronte Law fill out the GB&I roster.
Meadow easily justifies her place in the side after her exploits in college golf. The 20-year-old from Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, has set an Alabama record for most victories. Her fifth tournament title came this month in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. That was the second victory of her sophomore season after three as a freshman.
Meadow is ranked 10th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Maguire is the second highest ranked player behind Hull at world No. 9. The Northern Irish amateur played five times in the last Curtis Cup, compiling a 1-3-1 record. Twin sister Lisa also played two years ago but has only been named as a reserve for this match.
Clyburn played three times two years ago and compiled a 1-1-1 record. Besides the Curtis Cup, Clyburn has appeared for GB&I in the Vagliano Trophy and Astor Trophy matches.
Pretswell, ranked No. 62, also played in the Vagliano and Astor Trophy teams. At age 22, she is the oldest player in the side. She compiled a 1-2 record in the last Curtis Cup.
Tidy and Boulden also have appeared in the Vagliano and Astor Trophy teams. Law won the 2011 Scottish U-16 Girls Open Stroke Play Championship
There was no place for reigning British Amateur champion Lauren Taylor. The 17-year-old made history last year at Royal Portrush when she won the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship at age 16. Taylor is ranked 21st in the world but has been left out because of doubts about her fitness.
In a statement, the LGU said: “She was present but did not play in the Curtis Cup team trial at Nairn, having been nursing an injury for some time. The Selection Panel felt they could not take a chance on her being 100 percent fit in time for three days play at the highest amateur international level of a Curtis Cup match.”
Two-time Curtis Cup player Sally Watson also was passed over for selection. The Stanford player has a 4-5-1 record in the last two matches. However, she could not commit to the team trial at Nairn, and that has probably cost her a place, even though the LGU decided to make an exception for Hull.
Tegwen Matthews of Wales captains the GB&I team. The United States has won the last seven matches and holds a 27-6-3 advantage in the biennial competition.
2012 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team
• Amy Boulden, Wales, age 18, WAGR rank 38
• Holly Clyburn, England, age 20, WAGR rank 33
• Charley Hull, England, age 16, WAGR rank 7
• Bronte Law, England, age 16, WAGR rank 225
• Leona Maguire, Northern Ireland, age 17, WAGR rank 9
• Pamela Pretswell, Scotland, age 22, WAGR rank 62
• Kelly Tidy, England, age 19, WAGR rank 109
• Stephanie Meadow, Northern Ireland, age 20, WAGR rank 10