Charley Hull withdrew from a professional tournament to participate in the upcoming Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup training session at Nairn, Scotland, but the English teen decided to opt out of the trial when she was offered a place in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Hull, 15, has lost her chance to play in this year’s Curtis Cup because she will not take part in the session.
“I’d love to play in the Curtis Cup, and I had planned to take part in the training session at Nairn,” Hull said. “I pulled out of a professional tournament in Florida (Florida’s Natural Charity Classic on the Symetra Tour) so I could participate in the training session. Then I was offered a spot in the Kraft Nabisco, and I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a dream come true.”
A family friend contacted Tegwen Matthews, the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup captain, on Feb. 25 to inform her of Hull’s decision. The Ladies’ Golf Union released a statement Feb. 27 announcing that Hull would not be selected for the Curtis Cup because of her decision to play in her first major championship.
“We made it plain to the players that if they didn’t play in the training session, they wouldn’t play in the match,” said Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of golf operations. “They signed an agreement.”
The LGU since has softened its position, agreeing to allow Hull the chance to leave the training session early to travel to California.
In a statement released late yesterday, Simpson said, “The LGU has again invited Charley to rethink her decision to withdraw and has indeed tried to reach a further accommodation with her, offering that she flies out to the USA on the Sunday of the team trial, which would give her sufficient time to travel to the Kraft Nabisco, which starts the following Thursday. To date, there has been no reply to this suggestion from either the player or her representatives.”
Golfweek reached Hull in Spain, where she is playing in the Spanish International Ladies’ Championships. “I appreciate the LGU has offered to let me leave the training session early,” Hull said. “I would still love to represent GB&I in the Curtis Cup, but I feel that traveling on Sunday wouldn’t give me enough time to prepare properly for the Kraft Nabisco, especially when you consider I would be practicing in totally different conditions at Nairn than California.
“I want to be at my best when I play in my first major, and that’s why I’m traveling to America early so I can get used to the jet lag and time difference. I want to be fresh when I play in my first major, and I don’t think traveling to Nairn and then flying to California and having little time to practice would be the best preparation.”
Hull revealed that she had told Matthews of her decision before she spoke with Golfweek.
Hull already has booked her flights to the United States. She departs England on March 20. The Curtis Cup training session is being held March 23-25. The Kraft is March 29-April 1.
The LGU’s olive branch comes after criticism from John Petrie, chief executive of England Golf. “While player agreements are important, the aim is to win the Curtis Cup,” Petrie said. “For a 15-year-old player, ranked ninth in the world, to be invited to play in one of golf’s majors is an outstanding achievement, and for Charley to be punished for her success makes no sense.
“I hope the LGU has sufficient flexibility to revisit this decision and be able to select the best eight players for the team. The only winner here is the USA Curtis Cup team.”
The LGU has also received a hostile reaction from many top professionals, including British Open champions and former Curtis Cup players Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew. Both have gone on record to criticize the LGU. Meanwhile, Hull has received an outpouring of sympathy on Twitter from male and female professionals alike.