Two Scots named in Curtis Cup squad

TWO Scots – Kelsey MacDonald and Pamela Pretswell – have been included in a preliminary Great Britain & Ireland squad for this summer’s Curtis Cup at Nairn but the omission of Sally Watson, who has played in the last two matches against the Americans, from the 12-strong group will have raised the odd eyebrow.

While Susan Simpson, the LGU’s head of golf operations, insisted that Watson’s omission did not necessarily mean her chances of a third appearance in the biennial event had been killed off, missing out on the squad selected by Tegwen Matthews, the GB&I captain, is undoubtedly a major blow for the Stanford University player.

“The fact Sally hasn’t been named in the preliminary squad doesn’t preclude her from being picked for the final team,” Simpson told The Scotsman. “If she did something outstanding between now and then that would be taken into consideration.”

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MacDonald’s inclusion in the squad will have added to the excitement that is building in the host town as she lives in Nairn. The Nairn Dunbar player just missed out two years ago, when Pretswell and Watson provided the tartan touch, and the 2010 Scottish champion will be delighted to have moved a step closer to realising her dream of playing in one of golf’s top team events on her own doorstep.

Having played in the match two years ago, when the Americans won 12½-7½ at Essex County Club in Massachusetts, Pretswell had been hoping to move into the professional ranks this season.

However, after failing to come through the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Spain last week, the Bothwell Castle player has decided to stay amateur and is delighted to be in with a chance of facing the Americans again.

“I was disappointed not to gain my Tour card, but I gained a lot of valuable experience and learned a great deal,” said Pretswell, who won the British Women’s Stroke-Play Championship last season

“This year I will be playing in the major amateur events and also targeting the LET Access events as well to gain more experience playing with professionals. I will also be working on a part-time basis, helping my brother develop his business. I will be returning to Qualifying School next year to try and gain my card for 2013.”

She added: “It was always my plan to stay amateur and I am delighted to be selected for the Curtis Cup squad.

“I loved every minute of the 2010 Curtis Cup in Boston and I will be working hard over the next few months to try and secure one of the eight places in the team for Nairn.

“I will be playing in the Spanish Amateur next month – the only tournament I will be playing in before selection takes place.”

In addition to Watson, there is also no place in the squad for Fifer Louise Kenney, who succeeded MacDonald as Scottish champion en route to topping the SLGA Order of Merit last year.

Among those Joining MacDonald and Pretswell for a three-day team trial at Nairn at the end of March will be the talented Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, as well as Lauren Taylor, who, at 16, became the youngest winner of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush last June and was also named the BBC Young Sports Personality of 2011.

Pretswell, Lisa Maguire and Holly Clyburn are the only survivors from the last match, since when a GB&I side consisting of MacDonald, Pretswell, Clyburn, Amy Boulden, and Kelly Tidy beat Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa to win the Astor Trophy at Fairhaven.

The final eight for the 37th staging of the Curtis Cup will be picked immediately after the trial at Nairn, where Gillian Stewart, the former Ladies European Tour player, will be on hand to pass on some local knowledge to the hopefuls.

“Gillian will be working with the girls on their short games while Christine Langford, the golf director at Abbotsley in Cambridgeshire who has had success working with the Welsh squads in recent years, will also be in attendance,” said Simpson.

“Having a team trial at the match venue is not something we’ve done often but we’ve decided to give it a go to see what benefits can be gained.

“I think Tegwen has probably been influenced by the chat she had with Nigel Edwards after his success with the Walker Cup team at Royal Aberdeen.”