We talk to rising starlet Charley Hull
IT is not often that ladies’ amateur golf captures the headlines yet Charley Hull certainly did so with her exclusion and then inclusion into the Curtis Cup team.
In short, the teenager – ranked as one of the best 10 female amateurs in the world – was part of the GB&I squad for the team trial, but was then invited to play in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California a few days after the get-together at Nairn, in the Scottish Highlands.
Hull pulled out of the trial, saying that she wanted to get to the west coast of America in good time to acclimatise.
That put her on a collision course with the Ladies Golf Union. Following a signed agreement, the decision ruled Hull out of the selection process, only for the selectors to change their decision and rule her back in at the very last moment.
All the while Hull was preparing for her first Major, where she not only managed to play all four rounds, she tied for 38th – ahead of the likes of Ai Miyazato, Morgan Pressel, Melissa Reid, Caroline Hedwall, Karen Stupples and Sophie Gustafson.
And, to reiterate, she’s only just turned 16.
What were your goals at the start of the week?
I just thought I would try and do my best and see what happens.
I didn’t think about the cut really, I was in the field like everybody else and trying to finish as high as possible.
Who did you play practice rounds with?
I played a practice round with Karen Stupples which was fun and she told me to just take it one shot at a time.
I also walked the course with Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon, who is next year’s Solheim Cup captain, so that was great.
Did you meet everyone you wanted to meet?
I didn’t really go up to anyone as I don’t really do that and I just got on with my own stuff. If I wasn’t playing in the competition then I would look out for people but, when I’m playing, I just focus on myself. I did hit balls next to Lexi Thompson though and that was pretty special.
What did you make of the course?
It was so good and so nice to play. The key things are the iron shots and the putts, there are some places where you really don’t want to leave yourself a downhill putt.
How difficult are the greens to putt on?
There’s a place called Indio which is at the bottom of the valley and every putt breaks towards it. Even if it is a left-to-right putt it may not break as much as you think because of where the town is, it was very confusing and you need a lot of experience there.
Because of the time difference in America I had a look on Twitter to see what the team was and everyone was saying well done. Obviously you can’t have been too nervous – given that you promptly birdied your very 1st hole in a professional event, let alone a Major?
I wasn’t too bad, I was nervous the few days before but when I got to the 1st tee I was OK as I play golf a lot so why should I be. But I was a little bit nervous.
How do you deal with nerves?
I believe in myself and just hit it.
Who caddied for you?
The pro at Mission Hills, Jerry, caddied for me. He was great at helping out with the yardages and telling me where not to hit it.
You said on Twitter that you would try and hit it softer on the Saturday, that obviously worked as you shot a 68 the next day?
I was swinging it very hard so the next day I took one more club and swung more within myself which was much better.
Was that your most satisfying round to date?
It was but I still left a lot of shots out there. It was also pretty special as I played with one of my best friends Jaye Marie Green. We’ve known each other for just over a year and I have stayed at her house in Florida. We went to dinner one night at the Kraft with some English friends and it was funny because they just love our accents so much.
What was your strategy for playing the 18th?
I could reach it in practice when the wind wasn’t as strong but I kept hitting it into the right bunker off the tee so I kept having a 6 iron for my third shot which was interesting.
On the last day it was really windy and I had a 5 iron which I punched in to 17 feet so that was a great way to finish.
Did you see the missed putt by IK Kim?
I was on the balcony in the clubhouse and my friend was watching it. You heard an aah, and then a bigger second one and we couldn’t believe it. I had a similar putt but a bit longer and it was right half of the hole. But from where she was I think it was more down to concentration.
How did you find out that you were in the Curtis Cup team?
Because of the time difference in America I had a look on Twitter to see what the team was and everyone was saying well done.
My dad had got a message but he didn’t want to wake me up.
What did you think when you read the messages?
I thought oh that’s cool, that’s good. I didn’t think twice about making it.
Did it give you a real boost ahead of the Kraft?
It did but I was just concentrating on the Kraft.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m not quite sure, it will be great to play in front of all the crowds. I haven’t played it yet but I’ll be going up before the matches to play the course a few times.
Charley in a minute
What are your plans to turn pro?
Everybody asks me this but I honestly really don’t know, when I’m good enough.
How does your education work?
I do home schooling now as I wouldn’t be able to get the time off school. Last year I played in about 13 tournaments. I’ve done the home schooling for two years now and I do that online and I have two tutors as well.
Where do you play your golf?
I have been a member at Woburn for five years. I like playing the Marquess off the very back tees and I love the tightness of the Duchess.
How many people do you have in your team?
Matt Johns is my putting coach and Lee Scarbrow does my full swing.
What clubs do you use?
I got some new clubs about two months ago and I now use Titleist MB blades.