Michelle Wie dropped in on the early festivities at the Curtis Cup Wednesday, wearing a Stars and Stripes hoodie and a big ol’ smile out to Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.
She huddled with Team USA for lunch and a rousing “I believe that we will win” chant. Wie was a mere 14 when she competed in the 2004 Curtis Cup, where roughly 15,500 supporters lined the fairways of Formby Golf Club over the course of two days in a town just north of Liverpool.
Three members of that 2014 Curtis Cup team went on to win U.S. Women’s Opens – Paula Creamer, Brittany Lang and Wie.
On Thursday, Juli Inkster will be the surprise featured guest. Inkster, of course, is scheduled to work in the booth for Fox Sports June 8-10 covering the Curtis Cup. Face time with Inkster, an LPGA Hall of Famer and American treasure when it comes to team play, is nothing short of priceless.
“I hope they’ll take it all in,” said U.S. captain Virginia Derby Grimes. “Whatever she has to say.”
Only two members of the Team USA’s squad – Andrea Lee and Mariel Galdiano – were part of the 2016 loss to Great Britain and Ireland at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Ireland. England’s Bronte Law became only the second player in Curtis Cup history to go 5-0-0, joining Stacy Lewis (2008). Both Law and Leona Maguire have since turned professional. (Leona Maguire makes her pro debut at this week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic.)
Derby Grimes, a former Auburn player/coach and winner of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, asked both Lee and Galdiano to step up their role as leaders this week. The team of eight gels well enough, but Derby Grimes wanted more ownership from the returnees.
Two members of the squad made the cut at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open and flew in on Monday – Alabama’s Kristen Gillman and 15-year-old Lucy Li. For Gillman, it has been an especially grueling stretch, with the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion also going the distance at the NCAA Championship, winning all three of her individual matches.
Gillman and Li took an early flight out of Birmingham, Ala., to New York on Monday to join their team for a trip to the New York Stock Exchange and dinner atop the Freedom Tower, officially known as One World Trade Center.
Come Friday though, it’s down to serious business. While Team USA leads the overall series 28-8-3, recent memory matters most. And GB&I won the last round.
Derby Grimes was a member of victorious U.S. Curtis Cup teams in 1998, 2000 and 2006. This, she said, feels decidedly different.
“The responsibility of trying to win this cup back is a little more intense than being the player,” said Derby Grimes, “and that’s what we’re here for, representing our country. …. On the course, it’s game on.”