Curtis Cup 2018: GB&I captain confident of win in America
|Venue: Quaker Ridge, United States Dates: 8-11 June|
Despite a frustrating flight delay to New York, Great Britain and Ireland remain confident they can upset the odds and retain the Curtis Cup.
The match between the elite amateur women of GB&I and the United States begins at Quaker Ridge on Friday.
America boast a formidable line-up with all eight of their players ranked inside the world’s top 25 amateurs, including number one Lilia Vu.
But visiting captain Elaine Farquharson-Black believes her young team can repeat the stunning triumph they achieved at Dun Laoghaire in the Republic of Ireland two years ago and win on American soil for only the second time in the match’s 86-year history.
“We’ve been thinking about it and planning for what seems like a very long time,” Farquharson-Black told BBC Sport.
“We had a false start when the first plane didn’t take off and we had an extra night in London but we used that for everybody to get to know each other better.
“We were sitting on the runway for six hours because of technical faults. It started with the toilets not working at the back of the plane to then the intercom not working and then they cancelled the flight, so we flew on Wednesday instead of Tuesday last week.”
The average age of both teams is under 20 for a match that includes several players destined for the professional ranks. Only two players, Olivia Mehaffy and Alice Hewsen, remain in the visitors’ line-up from their victory in the last contest.
At 20 in the world, Mehaffy is the highest-ranked player in the GB&I team which includes 15-year-old Annabel Fuller and Lily May Humphreys, 16. The US have teenage sensation Lucy Li, who qualified for the 2014 US Open when she was only 11-years-old.
Farquharson-Black, who played in the 1990 and ’92 matches, is not concerned about the youthful nature of her team.
“I think playing golf gives you a bit of maturity,” she said.
“You are out there having to control your emotions and decision making. We’ve made sure they spend time with the more experienced ones when they go out to practice, to work on course strategy and management, but they are a lot of fun.”
GB&I made their final preparations at nearby Fenway and paid particular attention to shots on and around the greens that they expect to face at Quaker Ridge. Short-game expert Steven Orr was flown in to oversee the sessions.
“With a Curtis Cup match in the States it is generally won and lost on the greens,” Farquharson-Black said.
She was in charge when GB&I completed their stunning 11.5-8.5 victory in Ireland two years ago. “Somebody commented to me that it was the best golf they had ever seen in a Curtis Cup,” the captain said.
“We made a whole heap of birdies, I think 70-odd birdies over the three days. It was very good golf and we are going about things in the same way in terms of our prep here.”
With the Ryder, Walker and Solheim Cups all in American hands, the Curtis Cup is the only one of the big four transatlantic golf trophies currently held outside the United States.
“I’m not sure I’m looking at it in terms of us being the only ones out of all the different cups,” Farquharson-Black said. “I suppose I look at it that it was fantastic to win in 2016 and we don’t have a great record over here, so I think it would be pretty special.
“We have a very good chance because we have eight exciting players playing well, we will be prepared and ready when the whistle blows.”
The contest is played over three days starting on June 9 with three foursomes followed by three fourball matches on each of the first two days and eight singles on Sunday.
These are the two teams:
GB and Ireland
India Clyburn, 21, Woodhall Spa, England
Annabell Fuller, 15, Roehampton, England
Paula Grant, 24, Lisburn, Ireland
Alice Hewson, 20, Berkhamsted, England
Lily May Humphreys, 16, Stoke-by-Nayland, England
Sophie Lamb, 20, Clitheroe, England
Shannon McWilliam, 18, Aboyne, Scotland
Olivia Mehaffey, 20, Royal County Down Ladies, Ireland
Mariel Galdiano, 19, Pearl City, Hawaii
Kristen Gillman, 20, Austin, Texas
Jennifer Kupcho, 20, Westminster, Colorado
Andrea Lee, 19, Hermosa Beach, California
Lucy Li, 15, Redwood Shores, California
Sophia Schubert, 22, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Lauren Stephenson, 20, Lexington, South Carolina
Lilia Vu, 20, Fountain Valley, California
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