5 Things: GB&I Curtis Cup mistakes
The Ladies Golf Union has made some strange decisions over the years concerning the Curtis Cup. The Charley Hull saga is the latest, and goes to the top of my list of five GB&I Curtis Cup mistakes:
1. Let Charley play: The LGU’s decision to exclude 15-year-old Hull from Curtis Cup selection only favors the United States. Ranked eighth on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Hull should play in this year’s match. Yet she won’t be in the team because she can’t take part in a team trial.
As anyone following the Hull story knows, the 15-year-old had planned to take part in the team trial at Curtis Cup in Nairn, Scotland, on March 23-25. Hull, winner of this year’s Harder Hall Invitational and current holder of the Welsh and English Ladies’ Stroke Play Championships, withdrew from a Symetra Tour event to play in the team trial. Then she was granted a spot in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and decided to withdraw from the Nairn session so she could get to California early to prepare properly for her first major championship.
The LGU has taken the unbelievable decision to exclude Hull from selection for this year’s Curtis Cup as a result. It’s a decision that has met with widespread - and deserved - criticism.
2. Basing Curtis Cup selection on three days of golf: The LGU say the team trial at Nairn is to decide which of the 12 squad players are named to the eventual team of eight. Determining a team based on who can travel to Nairn and on three days of golf is absurd. The idea should be to pick the best possible team. Many good players are being discounted because they can’t make the team trial. For example, Stanford’s Sally Watson played in the last two Curtis Cups, has a pretty good record (4-5-1), and has won a college event this season, yet the Scottish Amateur champion won’t be considered because she couldn’t commit to the team trial. Absurd.
3. Agreeing to extend the Curtis Cup to three days: The Curtis cup switched from a two-day to a three-day tournament in 2008 at St. Andrews. Great for the spectators, but not for GB&I’s chances of winning the cup for the first time since 1996. The U.S. is always going to have greater strength in depth than GB&I, so making the match longer just plays into the hands of the U.S.
4. Gillian Stewart: The Scot was inexplicably left out of the 1984 match at Muirfield even though she was clearly the best amateur in the British Isles. Indeed, she might have been the best British woman, amateur or professional, at that time. To this day, those who know the amateur game still shake their heads at Stewart’s omission.
5. Becky Brewerton: The Welsh player played in the 2000 match and experts on this side of the pond fully expected her to play in the 2002 match. Yet, like Stewart, she was inexplicably left out. Brewerton has since gone on to a successful professional career and appeared in the Solheim Cup.
Given all of the above, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at the LGU’s baffling decision to exclude Hull from this year’s match.