WOBURN, England – Well done, Charley Hull, on making the cut in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but spare a thought for friend and fellow Woburn Golf Club member Lauren Taylor.
Both English girls have endured troubled times lately that no teenager should have to face. Hopefully they will be stronger for their experiences.
Hull made the cut in the Kraft Nabisco, the first major championship of the LPGA season, despite the controversy that has swirled around her lately.
The Ladies' Golf Union did not help her preparation for her first major championship. The 16-year-old was told that her decision to miss a Curtis Cup team trial at Nairn, Scotland, to play in the Kraft had cost her a place in the Great Britain & Ireland team. Then the LGU came to its senses and realized the chances of winning the cup for the first time since 1996 were pretty slim without the world’s No. 5 amateur and selected Hull anyway.
How the teenager managed to prepare properly for the Kraft Nabisco with all that going on around her is a testament to her strength of mind. Hull has been through the mill and has come out smiling on the other side.
However, Taylor has had a really rough deal lately. First, she was told that she was in the U.S. Women’s Open courtesy of winning last year’s Ladies’ British Amateur Championship. Then, the USGA realized it had made an error – the governing body meant to exempt this year’s British Amateur champion – and, shamefully, withdrew the exemption. Then she missed out on selection for the Curtis Cup.
Taylor made history last year when she won the Ladies’ British Amateur at Royal Portrush. At 16, she became the youngest winner of the championship.
Now 17, Taylor traveled to Nairn even though she was nursing an injury. She was under doctor’s orders not to hit full shots, but informed the LGU that she was allowed to start playing full rounds the week after the team trial. Taylor will play for England in France next week.
So the LGU did not select her for fear over her fitness. . . even though the match is still more than two months away! How the LGU can leave the Ladies’ British Amateur Champion off the Curtis Cup team has baffled many, me included.
Taylor, who begins her college career at Baylor this September, is No. 19 in the R&A's World Amateur Golf Ranking, higher than five players who made the team. For example, 16-year-old Bronte Law is ranked 225th.
The obvious move was to select Taylor and worry about her fitness later. That’s what reserves are for.
There are mixed emotions in the Woburn clubhouse at the present moment. (I know – I’m a Woburn member.) There is bursting pride at Hull’s achievement of making the cut in her first major, but genuine sympathy for what Taylor has been through.
It’s a testament to both girls that they have been able to rise above the controversy. Hull let her clubs do the talking in shooting a 1-under-par 71 in the opening round of the Kraft Nabisco. Taylor took the USGA’s rejection with great dignity. As for the Curtis Cup, she emailed captain Tegwen Matthews to set the record straight about her fitness, but ended the email with the words “I wish the GB&I Team every success in the Curtis Cup.”
It’s a word that describes both girls. Hopefully that class and their recent experiences will carry Hull and Taylor through to successful careers.