WOBURN, England – Charley Hull fought through some disorienting challenges Friday, trying to move into position to make this a special weekend for English golf.
A hometown favorite here as a member at Woburn Golf Club, Hull posted 2-under-par 70, which put her among the top 10 in the morning wave, six shots off the lead.
Hull played much of the last two days on the clock, with her group under slow-play warnings, something Hull’s not accustomed to as one of the tour’s faster players.
“I'm usually quite a fast player,” Hull said. “So I don't want to be too much faster. So it can put me out a little bit.”
She also put up her score playing Woburn’s Marquess course almost 1,000 yards shorter than she’s accustomed to seeing it. When Hull plays the Marquess course, it’s usually with male members from the tips, at more than 7,400 yards. It’s set up at 6,463 yards this week.
“I usually play with my boy mates, and I'm hitting 3-woods into a lot of the holes,” Hull said. “I'm not used to shooting that low [on the Marquess course], like level par.”
Hull was paired with Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko and Linda Wessberg over the first two rounds. They were put on the clock during large portions of both rounds.
As part of the marquee grouping, Hull was followed by the largest galleries on the course. She said she was more nervous hitting her first tee shot Thursday than she has ever been, but she felt more comfortable on Friday, even though she got off to a sluggish start with two bogeys over the first six holes. She caught fire in the middle of her round, making four consecutive birdies.
“Today, I didn't feel anywhere near as nervous,” Hull said. “I quite actually liked yesterday, because I started with a few birdies, and I hit it pretty well. There's no reason why I can't go low, so that's why I'm feeling more comfortable.”
Hull, 20, is seeking to make her first LPGA title a major championship. She would like nothing more than to make it the Women’s British Open. She’s looking to become the first English player to win the championship since Karen Stupples 12 years ago.
England’s rallying hard around Hull. Ian Poulter, out from tour golf while recovering from a foot injury, is among fellow Woburn Golf Club members rooting for Hull this week.
“Charley is fun,” Poulter said. “She’s confident. She’s got that presence, where she’s bubbly, excitable, a good character for the game. It’s great to have her playing here at Woburn. I’m sure she feels like she wants to play a strong week at her home club.”
A charter bus full of young English junior girls has been making the trip from nearby Kettering Golf Club, where Hull first played as a child and still plays.
“There were eight juniors there when Charley started there,” said Dave, Charley’s father. “Now, they’re saying there are 80. Charley does clinics there.”
Hull understands her role growing the game in England, where fellow tour pro Mel Reid says the junior game needs a lot of help.
“I'm one of the young English players coming up, so I think that I feel like I am a major role model,” Hull said. “It's a good feeling.”