Legend status awaits Scottish golf pair as Curtis Cup begins

Scottish duo Hannah Darling and Louise Duncan have a chance to become Curtis Cup legends in the 42nd staging at Merion over the next three days.

By Martin Dempster
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 7:23 pm
Updated Friday, 10th June 2022, 11:11 am

Only once - at Prairie Dunes in Kansas in 1986, when it finished 13-5 - has Great Britain & Ireland come out on top on US soil in the biennial encounter.

The last two matches on the other side of the Atlantic were both won convincingly by the home team, but that won’t deter Darling and Duncan from trying to upset the odds.

Both made their debuts in a 12.5-7.5 at Conwy last year, but Broomieknowe member Darling in particular has grown in stature since then.

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The reigning R&A Girls’ Amateur champion has already posted six top-10 finishes on the US college circuit in University of South Carolina colours.

She also made her debut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, as did West Kilbride player Duncan on the back of her R&A Women’s Amateur champion win last year.

“I’m feeling ready,” said Darling, who will lead GB&I in the opening fourballs alongside England’s Annabell Fuller as they take on Rachel Heck and Rachel Kuehn.

“I’m excited for what’s to come after playing in this last year then this one being so close.”

GB&I's team at Merion. Back rown, from left: Lauren Walsh, Annabell Fuller, Amelia Williamson and Hannah Darling. Front row, from left: Emily Price, Louise Duncan, captain Elaine Ratcliffe, Charlotte Heath and Caley McGinty. Picture: Chris Keane/USGA

On having been vocal in the visitors’ team room this week, she added: “I think anyone who has seen me play match-play knows that I want to win. I’m very competitive and we are a very competitive team.

“If I can share anything that is going to help, then I’m going to do it and be a good team-mate.

“I really believe that we can do it this this week and I think that’s very clear when you look at all of us playing golf.”

Darling and her team-mates will be trying to keep the home fans quiet from the start, as Catriona Matthew’s European side did in last year’s Solheim Cup success on US soil.

Hannah Darling is heading into her second Curtis Cup on the back of brilliant freshman campaign for the University of South Carolina.

“We don’t expect to get much support from the home crowds, but we’ve got a lot of people over with us - family and friends who’ve come over to support and they can be loud and wave their flags probably better than some people,” said the Scot.

Duncan will also be involved in the opening session, joining forces with Heath in the bottom match against world No 1 Rose Zhang and Emilia Migliaccio

The tartan twosome are being joined at the venue where Justin Rose won the 2013 US Open by four other survivors from the Conwy contest - Caley McGinty, Annabell Fuller, Charlotte Heath and Lauren Walsh.

That means the only debutants in Elaine Ratcliffe’s GB&I team are Emily Price and Amelia Williamson.

Scotland's Louise Duncan is in Curtis Cup action (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

"The Curtis Cup is one of the highlights of the amateur game and I know they will all put in their best performances at Merion,” said Ratcliffe.

"I am delighted to have six of the girls from last year back in the team for the 2022 match and I believe this gives us a strong base to build upon.

“The two new players to the team will strengthen that talent base and we very much look forward to an exciting match."

It’s the same captains for the second match running, with Sarah LeBrun Ingram also having been re-appointed by the Americans.

Her team is being led by Zhang and also includes Amari Avery, Jensen Castle and Latanna Stone.

The opening day on Friday consists of three four-ball matches in the morning, followed by the same number of foursomes in the afternoon.

That format will be repeated on Saturday before the match concludes with eight singles on Sunday.

Friday Fourballs (local time)

7.30am Hannah Darling and Annabell Fuller v Rachel Heck and Rachel Kuehn7.42am Caley McGinty and Lauren Walsh v Amari Avery and Megha Ganne

7.54am Louise Duncan and Charlotte Heath v Rose Zhang and Emilia Migliaccio