Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bronte Law protegee makes it to the USA Curtis Cup team

By: Beth Ann Nichols
Lilia Vu owes her place on the U.S. Curtis Cup team, in part, to a Brit. It was England’s Bronte Law who took Vu under her wing freshman year at UCLA and taught her that “every little thing matters.” She blossomed under Law’s tutelage, becoming the winningest Bruin in school history.

Vu never played in a Junior Ryder Cup or Junior Solheim. As a freshman at UCLA, she learned about the Curtis Cup in 2016 after three team-mates, including Law, were picked to represent the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland. An envious Vu quickly made it a goal.

And now, the USGA has announced that 20-year-old Vu, the world’s top-ranked female amateur and Division I collegiate player, will lead Team USA at the 40th Curtis Cup match, to be played June 8-10 at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, New York State.
The biennial competition features teams of eight players who compete in six foursomes (alternate-shot) matches, six four-ball matches and eight singles matches over three days of competition.

Virginia Derby Grimes, the 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a member of the victorious 1998, 2000 and 2006 Curtis Cup Teams, will serve as USA captain. Scotland’s Elaine Farquharson-Black will once again lead GB and I, having captained the home team to victory in 2016. Law became the second player in event history to go 5-0-0 that year, joining Stacy Lewis (2008).

“I am super grateful,” said Vu. “I never get picked for events like this because I’ve never been good enough to get picked for these events.”

Only now, she’s a no-brainer, having won eight events at UCLA, including four in a row this season, and advancing to the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur.

The eight Team USA players who will compete at Quaker Ridge are:

Mariel Galdiano, 19, of Pearl City, Hawaii
Kristen Gillman, 20, of Austin, Texas
Jennifer Kupcho, 20, of Westminster, Colo.
Andrea Lee, 19, of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif.
Sophia Schubert, 22, of Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Lauren Stephenson, 20, of Lexington, S.C.
Lilia Vu, 20, of Fountain Valley, Calif.

Only two players return from the 2016 American team beaten by GB and I at Dunlaoghaire Golf Club near Dublin in 2016 - UCLA’s Galdiano and Stanford’s Lee.

The most well-known player on the list happens to be the youngest. Li made headlines around the sports world in 2014 when she became the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at 10 years, 10 months and 4 days old. She’s the first 15-year-old on the U.S. Curtis Cup team since Lexi Thompson in 2010.

Like Vu, Alabama’s Stephenson hasn’t had much experience representing her country in competition.

“Getting that call was such a relief,” said Stephenson, who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and made the cut at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. She’s been on fire at Alabama, posting 15 of 23 rounds in the 60s this season with two victories.

Stephenson will be joined by Tide teammate Kristen Gillman, who won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur at the age of 16, defeating Brooke Henderson in a brilliant display of ball-striking. Gillman is one of two Women’s Amateur champs in the field. Sophia Schubert claimed victory last summer over Swiss star Albane Valenzuela, 6 and 5, at San Diego Country Club. The Texas senior made the cut in her first LPGA start, the Evian Championship, last autumn

Alternates for Team USA are, in order of ranking: Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tennessee and Emilia Migliaccio, 18, of Cary, North Carolina.

“Our committee is extremely thoughtful during the selection process and takes very seriously the opportunity to select the members of this team,” said Martha Lang, of Birmingham, Alabama, who is in her first year as chair of the ITS Committee and fourth year as a member of the USGA Executive Committee.
“We know the players we selected are extraordinarily talented competitors who will embody the tradition of camaraderie set forth by Margaret and Harriot Curtis in 1932.”

The United States leads the overall series 28-8-3. GB and I has won two of the last three competitions:10.5-9.5 at Nairn in 2012 and by 11.5 to 8.5 at Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin in 2016

The GB and I team will be announced next week.



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