EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – Charley Hull returned to work Tuesday, a New York Yankees baseball cap on her head and the British flag on her golf bag.
The 17-year-old made headlines and raised expectations on both sides of the Atlantic with a brilliant performance in the European victory Sunday over the Americans at the Solheim Cup.
But Hull said nothing has changed before she hit the driving range at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club to prepare for the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
“I’ve always aimed high, so I’m not really bothered by anyone’s expectations. It’s what I think and what I want to do,” said the golfer from Kettering, England.
The youngest to ever play in the Solheim Cup, Hull racked up an impressive 2-1-0 record and dismantled American Paula Creamer 5 and 4 in Sunday’s singles at the event near Denver.
“I didn’t feel it (the pressure) as much as I thought I would. I felt like it was just another game of golf, you know,” Hull said.
“The crowds were really, really big. People can find them intimidating, so I just kind of tried to trick my mind (to shut the crowds out) and go out and play my own game.”
Hull, who turned pro in March, will play in Edmonton as a sponsor exemption. However, she has already received permission from the LPGA to play on tour before she turns 18.
She’ll participate in the second stage of Q-school in October, and if all goes well she will be on tour starting Jan. 1.
She has already been tearing up the courses on the Ladies European tour, with five runner-up finishes. But she says she wants to tee it up with the best.
“I want to get on the LPGA,” she said. “Everything seems bigger. The players are better. It’s just playing in front of bigger crowds more, so it’s more fun.”
Hull has already made an impression by not standing out. She has not courted sponsors in order to avoid distractions.
Her red and black Titleist golf bag is a monument to minimalism. Aside from her name, there is little to distinguish it _ no puppet heads or cutesy club covers.
“That’s not me,” she said.
The only personalized item is a fist-sized stuffed heart hanging on the side, wrapped in the flag of Britain.
Does it have special meaning?
“My friend gave it to me, so I thought rather than just put it in the (rubbish) bin, I’ll put in on the golf bag,” she said.
How about the Yankees hat? Big fan of America’s iconic sports franchise?
No, she said, it’s just something she picked up in England.
“I wear this hat because it’s more comfortable on my head than the other hats. I don’t even know what the (NY) symbol means.”
Hull is already known for her plain speaking. Recently she said it’s “silly” for some golf courses to have male-members-only policies, adding, “We are all equals and should be treated as such.”
Hull’s father, David, said she got some of that from him.
“I’ve always brought her up to tell the truth and be honest,” he said. “I think that’s what people should do in life. Say what you see.”
David said he could tell early his daughter was wired for golf.
“When she was 4, she just picked it up. She was so gifted. A natural, the way she could hit a golf ball,” he said. “I could show you a video of her swing when she was seven. Her swing was pretty similar (to what it is now).
“She could use her hands. (The club) seemed to be a part of her. It was strange.”
It wasn’t in the genes, he added.
“I didn’t start playing golf till I was 45. It doesn’t come from me.”
He said his daughter practices 6 hours a day, and she thrives on the challenge.
“When she was little they used to say `Oh, you’re a girl, you have to play off the ladies’ tees,'” he said.
“She would say, `I don’t want to do that. I’m playing with the boys. I want to challenge them.’ So they let her play off the back tees with the boys.”
That’s why the LPGA is the next step.
“There’s a lot more competition here,” he said. “If she wants to get better that’s what she wants, so I’ll have to come with her until she’s 18.
“I’ll babysit her,” he said, laughing.
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