Everyone remembers the way Charley Hull’s Solheim Cup ended in 2013. After beating Paula Creamer 5&4 in singles play on Sunday, she asked Creamer to autograph her golf ball for a friend. It was likely the first and last time anyone in the golfing world had ever seen something similar on a stage as big as the Solheim Cup.
However, from Hull’s vantage point, the more vivid memory from that day is the one that came before the match. Hull, the youngest competitor in Solheim Cup history, can only laugh now but she remembers not being quite as amused early that Sunday morning when her sister came back into her room and woke her up after a night out on the town in Colorado. She tried to explain to her sister that she had a huge match against Paula Creamer that morning and needed sleep, but her sister, Nicole, didn’t know who Creamer was and, budding golf star or not, wasn’t having any perceived annoyance from the sister 10 years her junior.
“At like 4:00 in the morning she woke me up because she was like drinking. She’s 10 years older. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’” Charley says now with a laugh. “She was like, ‘I’m just coming in from my party.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, you do know I’ve got a big game tomorrow.’ She’s just like, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine!’”
Hull didn’t make the same mistake in her second go around of the Solheim Cup, forcing her sister into a subsequent room and deciding to stay alone this year. However, she’s thrilled to have her sister with her this week because she can always count on her to provide perspective in what’s always a tense week.
“She cracks me up when she comes to golf tournaments,” Hull said. “Like, for instance, last year I missed a three-foot putt on the last hole, and put me one behind the lead. She was like, ‘that was rubbish, wasn’t it? I’m wearing flip flops, and I could have holed that. Go and do some putting.’ So I went on the putting green, hit two putts, and she was like, ‘that was great, let’s go.’ She hasn’t got much clue about golf, but it’s quite funny when she watches. She’s actually like an older version of me.”
Hull’s other sister and her mom will also be here this week, but a staple on her road trips won’t be. Her dad, Dave, is at nearly every tournament with Hull, but right before her first round in Alabama she found out that her dad had headed to the hospital after seeing flashing lights. She finished her round but immediately withdrew and they headed back to England to have surgery on a detached retina that they said was four days away from causing him to lose his eyesight.
“It was only a 50/50 percent chance it would work,” Hull said of the surgery. “And he went back to the hospital a couple days ago, a week after the operation, and they said it was looking pretty good. But he can’t travel for eight weeks, so he’ll be staying home.”
While her dad won’t be at this Solheim Cup, she also won’t be asking for any autographs from fellow competitors this trip. She said her friend, James, who she got Creamer to sign the ball for actually does still have the ball from 2013 in his possession despite a recent scare.
“He thought his mum lost it, but she just moved it while she was cleaning,” Hull said with a laugh.
It’s no surprise that Hull is a part of one of the funniest moments in Solheim Cup history. Suzann Pettersen’s come to expect exactly that over the two years that she’s gotten to know her since. If there’s a class clown in the European locker room, it’s surely Hull.
“You have no idea what world Charley lives in from day to day,” Pettersen joked. “It changes so much and it’s totally a different planet than the rest of us. It gives us all a very good laugh.”
It’s not phony or forced. She’s really not even trying to be funny, but her fellow teammates haven’t been able to stop laughing so far.
“I think she’s just trying to be herself. But for the rest of us, it’s so unreal that it cracks us up every time something comes out of her mouth pretty much.”
Hull proved though in 2013 that she’s there for more than just humor, posting a 2-1-0 record as a 17-year-old, and she’s only gotten better since after finishing first on the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit in 2014. She also has an advantage on the rest of the field this week in that she has some course familiarity in her background after playing in an under-16s event for England here three years ago, and Pettersen’s not shy in believing that Hull could have an even bigger week this week for the Europeans.
“She’s got a great game, fantastic game,” Pettersen said. “She hits it far. She’s a good ball striker, she’s got a great touch, great short game.”
Those tools have always been in her arsenal, Hull says, but the Solheim Cup in 2013 only served to help her enhance them. She knew she belonged on the world stage all along, but her arrival in 2013 was her time to show it.
“I’m quite grateful because it really set the standards for me, I felt,” Hull said. “And I felt more comfortable knowing that I can beat some of the best players in the world at the time. It gave me a lot of confidence. So obviously it’s helped me. And, yeah, definitely everyone like figured out that I was pretty good after that instead of people doubting me, if you know what I’m saying.”