ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Charley Hull made her professional tournament debut at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship and birdied the first hole. She was an amateur at the time, and delighted desert crowds with her mature play.
“I will never forget that,” said the 17-year-old English player, who went on to help Great Britain and Ireland prevail at the Curtis Cup before turning professional.
This week at St. Andrews, she’s giving hot pursuit to a new dream: next month’s Solheim Cup.
Hull played a pro-am round at the Old Course alongside European captain Liselotte Neumann, who happened to captain Hull in the Junior Solheim Cup two years ago. Although it was a practice round for Hull, she conceded to feeling “a little bit of pressure” to perform. The Solheim Cup teams will be announced at the Old Course two hours after play has finished on Sunday. The competition will be held Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.
Hull would need an all-world performance this week to get on Neumann’s team on her own merit. But with four captain’s picks available, there’s a second window of hope for the young lass. If Hull were to make the team, she’d be the youngest in European history.
Players say Solheim Cup pressure is unlike the pressure of a major championship. For some, it’s worse. Hull isn’t worried about playing on such a grand stage. In fact, she prefers it.
“I feel like I putt really good under pressure,” she said. “I find it more fun.”
There could be several regulars for Team Europe left off of this year’s squad because the next generation has outplayed them. The great Laura Davies, who on the brink of 50 stands opposite young Hull, might miss out on the Solheim Cup team for the first time in event history. Davies is the only player who has competed in all 12 stagings of the event.
But it has been an “off” year for Davies, who stands No. 22 on the European points list. Perhaps the time has come to choose the future over the past.
After all, Team Europe has never won on American soil.
Hull’s first season on the Ladies European Tour included five runner-up finishes in her first five starts. Such an incredible run of consistency – and perhaps a bit of poor luck – leads one to believe this young player is wise beyond her years. An impressive week at the Old Course for Hull could mean the start of a new chapter for Team Europe.
The cup can’t be won on sentiment.