Given her acts of heroism in the AIG Women’s Open last weekend, Louise Duncan could’ve arrived at the Curtis Cup in an elaborately furnished palanquin carried by her worshipping team-mates.
Or perhaps not. “There were no chairs and I wouldn’t have got in one anyway,” she said with a smile. “But they were all buzzing for me, giving me hugs and fist bumps.”
Fresh from her amateur dramatics at Carnoustie, where she finished in a share of 10th among the global stars of the women’s game, Duncan is back to business with her GB&I colleagues at Conwy this weekend as Elaine Ratcliffe’s talented side square up to the USA in the biennial transatlantic tussle.
Fuelled by the kind of adrenaline rush you’d get parachuting out of a plane, Duncan is keen to keep the feel-good factor going in north Wales as GB&I look to win the cup for just the ninth time in the contest’s 89-year history. Two of her team-mates, Annabell Fuller and Lauren Walsh, both made the cut in the Women’s Open too and are riding a similar wave of energy, excitement and belief.
“I think if we’d had a week or two weeks off [after the Women’s Open] we may have had a bit of a lull,” admitted Duncan, who is joined in the eight-strong side by her highly-rated fellow Scot, Hannah Darling. “It’s great that the adrenaline is still here. Hopefully, it will carry us through the weekend.”
Duncan’s shimmering, golden summer is the kind the Beach Boys would’ve sang about. A record-breaking 9&8 win in the Women’s Amateur Championship final, a Curtis Cup call-up and a top-10 in her major debut?
“This wasn’t in the crystal ball,” admitted Duncan of a glorious chapter in a blossoming career that has exceeded all her expectations. “To cap off the season with a Curtis Cup is great. I couldn’t have dreamt this.”
Asked if her growing stature will make her a marked woman as far as the USA players are concerned, Duncan responded with a nonchalant shrug. “I’m not sure if there will be a target on my back but that doesn’t matter,” added the 21-year-old. “I’ll just go out and play golf. And hopefully some good golf.”
Duncan’s Women’s Amateur Championship win was followed up by the aforementioned Darling’s victory in the Girls’ equivalent as two of Scotland’s most promising young talents delivered a triumphant double-whammy.
After the postponement of the Curtis Cup last year due to the outbreak of coronavirus, Darling believes the delay has had some benefits. “The Curtis Cup was a goal last year, but I didn’t feel like I really handled that very well,” said the 18-year-old. “The first few events before Covid hit I didn’t feel like I’d played as well as I probably could have. This was almost a second go for me and a second time to prove myself. I think it’s helped the team develop a bit more too.”
The last Curtis Cup was a fairly sobering one for GB&I as the USA romped to a 17-3 rout at Quaker Ridge in New York to record a 28th victory overall. Home advantage will certainly help GB&I – seven of their eights wins have been in their own back yard – and team captain Ratcliffe is quietly confident that her youthful side will flourish this weekend. “Every time you play America you are playing against the best in the world,” she said. “We are genuinely seen as the underdogs. But we will bring a match to America. We have a very good chance of bringing the trophy home.”