Golf

Lisburn's Paula Grant to tee off for GB&Ireland Curtis Cup team

Irish Close champion Paula Grant (left) and Ciara Casey on the 17th green at Mullingar.
Tony McGee

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The waiting is over for Paula Grant, she is now officially a member of the GB&Ireland Curtis Cup team that will defend the trophy at Quaker Ridge, in New York on June 8 to 10. Also in the team for the second time is Olivia Mehaffey while Annabel Wilson is named non-travelling reserve.

“I'm absolutely delighted to have got the news this morning,” enthused Lisburn's Paula Grant. “It is nice to have the waiting over and to know that all the hard work I have done has paid off.

“Despite my poor finish at Troon last weekend, I was hopeful. I was very disappointed with the way that I finished there – I just couldn't get anything going.

“Anyhow, that doesn't matter now and I am really looking forward to my Curtis Cup debut.

“I was in the panel four years ago but I was doing my A Levels at the time and didn't have time to concentrate on my golf preparations,” recalled the World Number 62, who posted a second round four-under-par 68 in Scotland.

“I know all the girls who have been selected in the team so that is good. I have never been to Quaker Ridge but, I believe, it is a lovely course and I am looking forward immensely to being there.

“GB&I had a great result in Dun Laoghaire two years ago and we will have a real go at retaining the trophy.”

Grant is a former R&A Foundation scholar and in 2017 won the Irish Women’s Close Championship for the second time in five years. She also led the qualifiers after the strokeplay stage of the 2017 Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig.

The team includes five players from England alongside two Irish and one Scot with Lurgan teenager Annabel Wilson standing by hoping for a call-up in the event of some selected player having to, unfortunately, pull-out.

The team includes 16-year-old Lily May Humphreys who won the 2018 Helen Holm Championship at Royal Troon last Sunday to add to the Girls' British Open Amateur Championship and English Women’s Amateur Championship titles she collected last year. It is probably one of the youngest teams ever to represent Great Britain & Ireland in the competition as debutant Grant, at 24, is the oldest member. There are three 20-year-olds in the side and the rest are teenagers.

County Down's Olivia Mehaffey and Alice Hewson, from Berkhamstead, will make their second appearances for GB&I in the Curtis Cup after featuring in the winning side at Dun Laoghaire in 2016.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, who will captain the side for the second time, said: “There have been a number of players throughout Great Britain and Ireland who have been in impressive form recently and it was a difficult decision to select only eight.

“The players selected will now have a wonderful opportunity to perform on the international stage in one of the world’s most prestigious events and I’m sure that they will give their very best as we attempt to retain the trophy against a talented team from the United States.”

Leona Maguire, currently the number two golfer in the Women’s World Amateur Rankings, will turn professional next month and has ruled herself out of contention for selection, while England’s Isobel Wardle, who was also named in the provisional GB&I squad, opted out of contention in order to focus on her school exams instead.

The GB&I team is:

India Clyburn (21, Woodhall Spa), Annabell Fuller (15, Roehampton), Paula Grant (24, Lisburn), Alice Hewson (20, Berkhamstead), Lily May Humphreys (16, Stoke-by-Nayland), Sophie Lamb (20, Clitheroe), Shannon McWilliam (18, Aboyne), Olivia Mehaffey (20, Royal County Down Ladies).

Non-travelling reserve: Annabel Wilson (17, Lurgan).

Captain: Elaine Farquharson-Black (50, Deeside, Scotland).

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