Leona Maguire is one of four Irish players named by the R&A in the initial Great Britain and Ireland squad of 14 for next year’s Curtis Cup match at Quaker Ridge in New York.
While it remains to be seen if the world No 1 will still be an amateur for the 40th Curtis Cup match from June 8-10, GB&I will be attempting to retain the historic trophy after an 11½-8½ win over the United States at Dun Laoghaire in Ireland last year.
The Slieve Russell and Duke University star is joined in the squad by the University of Arizona and Royal County Down Ladies' Olivia Mehaffey, Irish Women's Close champion Paula Grant from Lisburn and Lurgan's Annabel Wilson, winner of the Claude-Roger Cartier Trophy in France this season.
Elaine Farquharson-Black, who will captain GB&I in the Curtis Cup for the second time, said: “We have identified a talented group of golfers, including three members of the winning 2016 Curtis Cup team. Each player in the squad is in contention for selection to the team and we will be monitoring their performances and results closely over the coming months.
“We will also be closely following the performances of other players not named in this squad who still have the opportunity to play their way into our thinking before the final team selection is made in April.”
Leona won won the 2017 Ladies British Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig, while Mehaffey had wins at the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship and Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championship in 2016.
Lily May Humphreys, who won the Girls British Open Amateur Championship at Enville earlier this year, features in a strong English contingent of eight players.
Alice Hewson is in contention to make her second Curtis Cup appearance after playing in the winning GB&I side in 2016 and Sophie Lamb, who finished as leading amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns to win the Smyth Salver, is also included.
Scotland’s Shannon McWilliam and Connie Jaffrey make up the squad.
A former Scottish Ladies Order of Merit winner in 2015, McWilliam finished runner-up in both the Helen Holm Championship and the Scottish Girls Open Championship this year. Jaffrey attends Kansas State University and has won three times in US collegiate golf, while also triumphing in the 2017 Scottish Ladies Amateur Championship.
The final eight-player GB&I team will be announced on 26 April 2018 and will include the two golfers who are placed highest in the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING™ on 25 April 2018. In addition, a further six players will be selected by The R&A Women’s Selection Committee. Up to four non-travelling reserves will also be announced.
The GB&I squad
- Emma Allen (20, Meon Valley, England)
- Connie Jaffrey (21, Troon Ladies, Scotland)
- Lianna Bailey (21, Kirby Muxloe, England)
- Sophie Lamb (20, Clitheroe, England)
- India Clyburn (21, Woodhall Spa, England)
- Leona Maguire (23, Slieve Russell, Ireland)
- Annabell Fuller (15, Roehampton, England)
- Shannon McWilliam (18, Aboyne, Scotland)
- Paula Grant (24, Lisburn, Ireland)
- Olivia Mehaffey (20, Royal County Down Ladies, Ireland)
- Alice Hewson (20, Berkhamsted, England)
- Isobel Wardle (17, Prestbury, England)
- Lily May Humphreys (15, Stoke by Nayland, England)
- Annabel Wilson (16, Lurgan, Ireland)