There was both joy and disappointment for Scottish golfers following today’s announcement of the Great Britain & Ireland team for the 40th Curtis Cup at Quaker Ridge outside New York in June.
Aboyne teenager Shannon McWilliam was named among the eight players that will defend the trophy under the captaincy of Aberdonian Elaine Farquharson-Black, providing a welcome tartan touch after the winning team at Dun Laoghaire in Ireland two years ago didn’t include a Scottish representative.
But, despite having given Farquharson-Black and her fellow selectors food for thought with some equally strong performances over the past few months, there were no places for either Connie Jaffery of Troon Ladies or Chloe Goadby of St Regulus.
In addition to McWilliam, the team is made up of five English players, including Lily May Humphreys, the 16-year-old who won the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship at Troon last weekend, and two from Ireland, Olivia Mehaffey and Paula Grant.
Mehaffey is one of two survivors from the successful side in 2016, the other being Alice Hewson, with India Clyburn, youngster sister of LET player Holly, Annabell Fuller and Sophie Lamb set to join McWilliam and Grant in getting a first taste of the biennial event.
“There have been a number of players throughout Great Britain and Ireland who have been in impressive form recently and it was a difficult decision to select only eight,” said Farquharson-Black, who is serving as captain for the second time.
World No 1 Leona Maguire, who was involved in the 11.5-8.5 triumph two years ago, made herself unavailable for selection this time around as she prepares to embark on her professional career. England’s Isobel Wardle, who was also named in the provisional GB&I squad, has decided to focus on undertaking her school exams.
“The players selected will now have a wonderful opportunity to perform on the international stage in one of the world’s most prestigious events and I’m sure that they will give their very best as we attempt to retain the trophy against a talented team from the United States,” added the captain.
McWilliam, the 2015 Scottish Ladies Order of Merit winner, began this season in good form by winning the Border Championship in South Africa by six strokes at East London. She effectively then clinched her place in the team by securing a third top-five finish in the last four years in the Helen Holm event in Ayrshire on Sunday.
“I was trying not think about the team being announced but it definitely took me a while to get to sleep on Wednesday night,” she told The Scotsman. “I was out playing at Aboyne this morning when the email came through that I’d been selected and my mum let out a scream when she read it as it was sent to her.
“This was my No 1 goal for this season but I was trying not to think about it too much when I was playing. Seeing six selectors out watching me at the Helen Holm was a bit nerve-wracking but finishing fourth there at the weekend definitely helped me.
“I know Elaine - her mum and dad, too - and she said to me that it was body language more than how I was playing that they had been looking at last weekend.
“I hadn’t been too hopeful about getting picked, to be honest, and part of the reason for that was that I didn’t want to be disappointed if I missed out. But, when I heard that Leona and Isobel had ruled themselves out, I definitely became a bit more hopeful. I work part-time as a waitress in a hotel in Torphins and I am working tonight so I can’t wait to tell everyone the news.”
The Curtis Cup has been won 28 times by the United States and eight times by GB&I with three matches tied.
India Clyburn (21, Woodhall Spa, England)
Lily May Humphreys (16, Stoke-by-Nayland, England)
Annabell Fuller (15, Roehampton, England)
Sophie Lamb (20, Clitheroe, England)
Paula Grant (24, Lisburn, Ireland)
Shannon McWilliam (18, Aboyne, Scotland)
Alice Hewson (20, Berkhamsted, England)
Olivia Mehaffey (20, Royal County Down Ladies, Ireland)
Annabel Wilson (17, Lurgan, Ireland)
2012: GB&I 10½, USA 9½ Nairn, Scotland
2014: USA 13, GB&I 7 St Louis, Missouri
2016: GB&I 11½, USA 8½ Dun Laoghaire, Ireland