Excited Hannah Darling ready to be team player in 'fun summer'

Just as well she’s a team player. Hannah Darling, after all, has lots of assignments coming up that will see the 18-year-old Scot joining forces with fellow golfers on some mouth-watering stages.

Pride of place will be a second Curtis Cup appearance alongside compatriot Louise Duncan at Merion in Philadelphia next month, but Darling is on ‘Gamecocks’ duty before then.

That’s the University of South Carolina nickname and Darling, the pride of Broomieknowe on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is now gearing up for next week’s NCAA regional event in Florida.

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She’s hoping they can progress to the finals in Arizona a fortnight later before that Curtis Cup appearance is followed by an Internationals debut in The Arnold Palmer Cup in Switzerland in July.

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Darling will also be in action for Scotland in the European Ladies Team Championship at Conwy then the World Amateur Team Championship in Versailles.

“There’s a lot of team events in there, which is nice as I love playing in a team environment,” Darling, who sits 12th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, told The Scotsman.

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Mixed in with those events, she will be playing in the R&A Women’s Amateur Championship, which takes place at Hunstanton at the end of June, as well while her sights are also set on being at Muirfield for its first AIG Women’s Open in early August. “It’s just going to be another fun summer,” added Darling.

Along with Duncan, as well as England’s Caley McGinty and Lauren Walsh from Ireland, Darling visited Merion last weekend on a reconnaissance trip for the 42nd Curtis Cup.

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Two-tim Solheim Cup-winning captain Catriona Matthew joined GB&I players Louise Duncan, Lauren Walsh, Hannah Darling and Caley McGinty and also captain Elaine Ratcliffe on a reconnaissance trip to Merion, venue for the match next month. Picture: The R&A

The quartet were joined by two-time Solheim Cup-winning captain Catriona Matthew, who had been invited to attend by Great & Ireland captain Elaine Ratcliffe.

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“Having Catriona there was great,” said Darling. “She shared some advice with us and we were able to pick her brains about the Curtis Cup and all her Solheim Cup experiences. It was great to hear what she had to say and it’s now up to us to see how that can help us when the match comes around.”

Darling was first introduced to Matthew during a visit to North Berwick a few years back as she was starting to show her potential. Unsurprisingly, she has kept in touch with the 2009 Women’s Open champion at every available opportunity.

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“Catriona has been quite supportive of me over the last few years,” said the current R&A Girls’ Amateur champion. “Any time she can help, she will and for her to be at Merion can only be a good thing for us. She’s been that role model for us, I guess, growing up.”

Darling and Duncan are among six players to have retained spots in the GB&I team from last year’s defeat at Conwy, the others being McGinty, Walsh, Annabell Fuller and Charlotte Heath.

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“Being selected for the Curtis Cup again is great,” said Darling. “There’s so much pride when it comes to that event and to be selected twice by the time I’m 18 is great. There’s so much around the match that makes it special.

“And for us to have been at Merion at the weekend looking at the course with a month to go was great. We can start to prepare our gameplans and come up with strategies, which is definitely helpful.”

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