USA Curtis Cup Team Boasts
April 28, 2008
By Stuart Hall
When the United States of America Curtis Cup team
arrives in St. Andrews, Scotland, for the 35th Match on the
Old Course, it will be one of the most diverse groups of
female amateurs ever assembled.
Among the eight-member squad who will face Great Britain
and Ireland May 30-June 1 (for the first time the Curtis
Cup will be staged over three days) consider this: there
are two teenaged prep stars; an Irish-born player who has
competed for three colleges; a New Jersey native who found
a home in the deep South; two collegiate teammates who can
take a third under their wings a few months before she
steps onto campus; and an amateur who was the clubhouse
leader of an LPGA tournament that was eventually wiped off
For sure, this will be an eclectic mix of personalities,
but make no mistake about the one common thread that ties
them together - they all have serious golf games.
|At 29, two-time U.S. Women's
Mid-Amateur champ Meghan Bolger is the oldest member of
the 2008 USA Curtis Cup team. (USGA Photo
Sixteen-year old Kimberly Kim and 18-year-old Mina
Harigae both have USGA national titles on their rÃ©sumÃ©s -
and not of the junior variety. Meanwhile, the elder
stateswoman of the team, Meghan Bolger, 29, is the reigning
two-time U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion, who
matriculated at Tulane University and coached at the
University of Mississippi for six seasons before leaving
that post in May 2007.
But the engine of captain Carol Semple Thompson's
team likely will be comprised of a quintet of college
players, each of whom has the talent and moxie for the next
level - i.e. the LPGA Tour.
As the college season moves toward conference, regional
and NCAA championships, expect to see these five Curtis Cup
names rise to the forefront and ultimately contend for a
Division I title, either as part of their team or
individually: Amanda Blumenherst and Jennie Lee (Duke),
Stacy Lewis (Arkansas), Alison Walshe (Arizona) and Tiffany
Since Blumenherst arrived at Duke and Lewis at Arkansas,
they have been two of the nation's best collegiate
players. Blumenherst, a junior, is the reigning two-time
national player of the year in helping the Blue Devils to
consecutive national championships, while Lewis, a senior,
has about the only thing Blumenherst has not won - an
individual NCAA championship.
In September, Lewis shot a 65 to lead the LPGA NW
Arkansas Championship through one round. But when rains
washed out the remaining 36 holes, the LPGA could not
declare it an official event or even an unofficial
It was all for naught except for what Lewis gained.
"Probably just more confidence that I can play with
the best players in the world, and I can beat 143 of the
best players in the world on one day," said Lewis, who
five months earlier tied for fifth at the LPGA's first
major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, to earn low-amateur
"I never expected to play like that," she
would later say. "I had one of the best putting weeks
I've ever had. It definitely spurred me on to play well
the rest of the year."
No doubt Lewis, 22, an accounting and finance major,
could easily calculate the earnings she has bypassed by
remaining an amateur through the Curtis Cup, but what's
the rush for a player with such immense talent.
Ditto for Blumenherst, 21. With her junior season not
yet complete, she already has 10 career collegiate wins and
27 top-10 finishes. Runner-up at last year's U.S.
Women's Amateur Championship, she has steadfastly
maintained she will be a Blue Devil for four years.
"Golf you do for however long you really want, so
when I think of leaving school or turning pro, you're
only going to be in college for four years, which really
isn't that long of a time," said Blumenherst, who
will be making her second Curtis Cup appearance. "I
can be out on tour for however long as I want, so I believe
taking the fundamental steps like going to college is such
an important part of your life that you really don't
want to rush."
And talking about 1 and 1A, at the Bryan National
Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C., last month, Lewis took
medalist honors with an even-par 216 score, with
Blumenherst a shot back at 217.
Were it not for Blumenherst, who won her third
consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference individual
championship last week, teammate Lee would be the Blue
Devils' headline grabber.
Lee, also a junior and expected to be on campus next
fall to join Blumenherst in welcoming Harigae to Durham,
was the runner-up at the NCAAs as a freshman. And in an odd
twist of fate, it was Blumenherst who ousted Lee, 5 and 4,
in last summer's U.S. Women's Amateur quarterfinals
at Crooked Stick.
Then there is the "Where's Waldo"-like
story of Walshe.
The 22-year-old was born in Galway, Ireland, grew up in
Massachusetts and has dual citizenship. Collegiately, she
started off at Boston College, transferred to Tulane and
then wound up at University of Arizona after Hurricane
Katrina swept through New Orleans and forced Tulane to
cancel the golf programs. She's made all-conference at
all three schools.
Walshe, a senior, recently missed the cut at the Kraft
Nabisco Championship - her first taste of the LPGA Tour -
but came away undaunted.
"Hopefully this is just the beginning," she
earlier this week.
That it's a beginning does not appear to an issue.
Nor does it appear one for Joh, a two-time All-American
junior at UCLA. Joh, the 2006 U.S. Women's Amateur
Public Links champion, became the first Bruin in 20 years
to make a Curtis Cup team. She, along with reigning U.S.
Women's Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe, has led UCLA
to a No. 1 ranking in one of the major polls.
Not inconceivable is a Duke versus UCLA - or a
Blumenherst versus Lewis - showdown at the NCAA
Championships, May 20-23. The Blue Devils have won the
previous three, but before them? How about UCLA in
No doubt Thompson's job will be made easier by the
competitive desires of those playing for national titles in
the coming weeks. And that should make for an easy
transition to the international level a week later.
Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has
appeared previously on www.usga.org.