Ratcliffe convinced Wilson & Walsh will make big Curtis Cup impact

John Craven
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Annabel Wilson reacts at the 18th hole at the conclusion of her match during the R&A Women's Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa (Photo by Mark Runnacles/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

GB&I Team Captain Elaine Ratcliffe has no doubt that Irish pair Lauren Walsh and Annabel Wilson possess all the attributes necessary to make a big impact at this month’s Curtis Cup.

Walsh and Wilson were named as part of the eight-person team selected for GB&I to play the USA in the 41st Curtis Cup at Conwy, Wales from 26-28 August with Forrest Little’s Julie McCarthy traveling with the team as a reserve.

Walsh has been a revelation for her Wake Forest women’s golf team since she made the move to the States. The Castlewarden convert was second on the team last season with a stroke average of 72.41 over 22 rounds while her form also earned her an Arnold Palmer Cup call-up this year and catapulted her inside the world’s top-25 ranked women amateurs.

With a Major debut also on the cards at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie in two weeks’ time, Walsh will be a key component of any potential GB&I victory and Captain Ratcliffe has no doubts that the Kildare woman is up to the task.

“Lauren is a wonderful, consistent player,” said Ratcliffe. “She strikes the ball well but is just very much a consistently good golfer. You see that in the results that she’s had over in the States, and I think she has just grown hugely over the last couple of years being over
in America and building on everything that she had already before she went there.”

Wilson’s selection perhaps wasn’t quite as nailed on as Walsh’s but the experienced Lurgan player has been trending upwards this year, rising to 75th on the amateur standings having teamed well with Walsh at last week’s Home Internationals where Ireland were pipped by hosts England at Woodhall Spa.

A former Junior Vagliano Team member and Bronze medal winner at the World Amateur Team Championships alongside Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey in 2016, the UCLA talent won the 2019 Irish Close title while she also recorded top-20 finishes at the World Junior Girls Championship and the European Ladies Amateur Championship in a welcomed return to form that caught the eye of Ratcliffe.

“Annabel Wilson, again, we’re blessed with a lot of good ball strikers, and ball strikers don’t always earn you money,” said Ratcliffe.

“There’s many ways of playing the game, but she strikes the ball beautifully, hits it a good distance, and again, has some great form from America but also has experience
going back a number of years, having broke through when she was incredibly young, doing what she did at the World Team.

“Yeah, it’s been lovely. She’s perhaps had a couple of quieter years because of her studying for her A levels, but she seems to have really come back being at UCLA, come
back stronger, and is just another good golfer really. She does a lot of things well.

“I think the other thing is they’re both great team players, as well.”

In total, eight players were selected to the GB&I team that will be looking to emulate the winning form of the 2012 and 2016 teams, who were victorious on home soil, as they bid to win back the historic trophy currently held by the USA. The stage is set for an exciting match as the USA, who have not won on this side of the Atlantic since 2008, will be bidding to retain The Curtis Cup.

The GB&I team is Hannah Darling, Louise Duncan, Annabell Fuller, Charlotte Heath, Caley McGinty, Emily Toy, Lauren Walsh and Annabel Wilson. The travelling reserves are Hazel MacGarvie and Julie McCarthy – the Auburn star looking back to her best for Ireland at last week’s Homes.

Fans will be able to attend the match at Conwy from the opening ceremony on Wednesday, 25 August through to the conclusion of play on Saturday, 28 August for a £40 adult season ticket. Children aged 18 years or under will be admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.

Tickets are on sale on a first come, first served basis and must be pre-purchased prior to the 20 August by visiting www.randa.org.

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