While checking on the progress of the MountainView Collegiate over the weekend, I became aware that the United States team for the 2016 Curtis Cup Match, the biennial competition against a squad from Great Britain & Ireland to be played June 10-12 at the Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Enniskerry, Ireland outside of Dublin, had been revealed by the United States Golf Association late last month.
If you’re interested in the identities of the top contenders for the title when the U.S. Women’s Amateur tees off in 132 days at Rolling Green Golf Club, you don’t have to look much further than this list of eight players, seven of whom are teen-agers.
Captain Robin Burke, a runnerup at the 1997 U.S. Amateur and a member of the winning U.S. side at the 1998 Curtis Cup Match, wasn’t necessarily trying to field the youngest U.S. team ever, it just so happens that these kids are the best players. All eight of them are ranked among the top 30 amateur players in the world.
Heading the group is Hannah O’Sullivan, the 17-year-old resident of Chandler, Ariz. who is expected to defend her U.S. Amateur title in August. Followers of the local golf scene might remember that it was O’Sullivan and her partner Robynn Ree, who is a freshman on a Southern California women’s team that is ranked No. 1 by Golfweek, who ended the thrilling run by Radnor’s Brynn Walker and Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr in the semifinals of the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship held at the Bandon Dunes Resort in Bandon, Ore. last spring.
O’Sullivan, who plans to join Ree at Southern Cal in the fall, was back in Oregon a couple of months later, defeating Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla., 3 and 2, in the scheduled 36-hole final of the U.S. Amateur at the Portland Golf Club. O’Sullivan is the No. 2-ranked amateur player in the world.
Brooks, 17 and a Wake Forest recruit, is also on the U.S. Curtis Cup team. She is No. 4 in the world ranking.
O’Sullivan and Ree lost in the final of the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball to Mika Liu, 17, of Beverly Hills, Calif. and Rinko Mitsunaga, who is a freshman on the powerful Georgia team. Liu, a Stanford recruit, will be part of the U.S. team in Ireland.
Also on the U.S. squad is Mariel Galdiano, 17, of Pearl City, Hawaii, who is No. 4 in the world ranking. Galdiano is headed for UCLA in the fall, where she will join U.S. Curtis Cup teammate Bethany Wu, 19, of Diamond Bar, Calif., who is a freshman for the Bruins, the No. 3 team in the country.
Liu will be joined at Stanford next fall by one of her Curtis Cup teammates, Andrea Lee, 17, of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
I discovered that the U.S. team had been announced while checking in on Georgia, the No. 5 team in the country. One of the Bulldogs’ leading ladies is freshman Bailey Tardy, 19, of Peachtree Corners, Ga. Tardy is No. 7 in the world ranking and she'll be part of the U.S. contingent headed for Dublin.
Rounding out the squad is Monica Vaughn of Reedsport, Ore. At 21, Vaughn, a junior at Arizona State, is the oldest member of the team, but take my word for it Monica, 21 is not old. Think of it as being the least young player on the team. Vaughn, who finished fifth in the NCAA Tournament last spring, and the Sun Devils are ranked No. 13 by Golfweek.
The U.S. holds the Curtis Cup after a convincing 13-7 victory over GB&I at St. Louis Country Club two years ago. But GB&I won the last Curtis Cup staged on its home turf in 2012 at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. The U.S. holds a 28-7-3 lead in the series.
It doesn’t appear that the Ladies’ Golf Union, which selects the GB&I team, has named its squad for the Curtis Cup, but it’s a pretty good bet that twins Leona and Lisa Maguire, sophomores on a Duke team that is No. 2 in the country, will be on it.
Leona Maguire is the top-ranked amateur player in the world and finished tied for second at last spring’s NCAA Tournament. Maguire and her big sister (by 15 minutes) first appeared on the GB&I team as 14-year-olds in 2010. Leona Maguire was on GB&I’s winning 2012 side, although neither made the trip to St. Louis in 2014.
The Maguires, natives of County Cavan, Ireland, seem to like spending their summers at home (hey, you can play golf there until like 10 p.m., what’s not to like about that), but who knows, maybe they’ll take a summer course at Duke and run up to Delco for the U.S. Amateur.