Personable and funny Charley Hull determined to break the major jinx in 2024 - Hindustan Times
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Personable and funny Charley Hull determined to break the major jinx in 2024

Feb 15, 2024 09:02 PM IST

Looking at Charley Hull's major prospects this year after she came close twice in 2023.

Something has got to give this year for Charley Hull. Last year twice she came close to winning her first major, particularly at the US Women's Open, and then at the AIG Women's Open but eventually she had to content herself with tied second and solo second finishes. At the Kroger Queen City Championship later in the year, she finished second after losing to Minjee Lee in the play-off. She had begun the year with a tied second too, at the HGV Tournament of Champions. At the Solheim Cup in September in Spain, despite battling a neck injury, she contributed to Team Europe's win over Team US.

Charley Hull at the Portland Classic last year. (Getty)
Charley Hull at the Portland Classic last year. (Getty)

But this could be her year. Enough of second-place finishes! There are all indications. In her first appearance this year at the HGV Tournament of Champions in Orlando last month the English golfer looked in good touch, even though she went over-par in the first round. She finished tied 7th at 7-under 281 in what was well and truly a great comeback. Hull appears the kind of player who gets better as the year progresses and she plays more and more tournaments.

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Last year she shocked many when she revealed she was suffering from severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That's why what she did on the golf course is all the more remarkable. After the diagnosis, she took a four-week break from the game and returned to give a great performance at the US Women's Open.

Hull is one of the most popular golfers in the world. On her Instagram account, the Rolex world number eight has 372K followers. Of all the golfers above her in the ranking, only Nelly Korda has more followers than her. World number one Lilia Vu, who won two majors last year, has only 19K followers to boast. 27-year-old Hull is popular among fans for quite a few reasons. First and foremost, she is brilliant at golf; second, she is personable. Last and not least, she is funny.

Appears Hull too senses this year could be the biggest for her. In the off-season, she has done specific exercises to strengthen her arms to empower her backswing. "I had a good season last year and a good start in Orlando two weeks ago, playing the first event of the year. I had a tied seventh-place finish. I was just getting off the cobwebs so I was happy with that," she told BBC Look East ahead of the Saudi Ladies International event that kicks off on Thursday in Riyadh.

Hull made waves in golf at an early age and was still a teen when she turned pro in 2013. If truth be told, she has failed to live up to all the hype she generated at the time. The Northamptonshire-born golfer, who was chosen the 2013 LET Rookie of the Year, to date has won only two LPGA events: the CME Group Tour Championship in 2016 and the Ascendant LPGA Benefiting Volunteers of America in 2022. As far as the Ladies European Tour (LET) is concerned, she has won three tournaments to date.

But at last, she appears to be getting there. Last year, she made the cut 14 times in 18 LPGA events. There were five occasions when she finished in the top-10 out of which four times she finished as a runner-up. The progression in her game is unmistakable and that's why many believe she is not far from winning her first major. She sounded upbeat ahead of the Riyadh event. "I had a good season last year and a good start in Orlando two weeks ago, playing the first event of the year. I had a tied seventh-place finish. I was just getting off the cobwebs so I was happy with that," she said.

Hull was introduced to the game when she could barely walk, all thanks to her father. She left school to be home-schooled at the age of 13. Coming from a humble background, she is a model golfer having chosen a life of simplicity despite having earned millions of dollars. One can understand why. She has experienced the grind and to her credit, has not allowed herself to be swayed by luxury. Her father Dave, a plasterer back in the day, played a massive hand in that. In 2013, the year she turned pro, they preferred the company of each other over the luxury the Evian Championship organisers could have easily afforded them.

Hull, who divorced MMA fighter Ozzie Smith in 2021 after two years of marriage, at last looks to harvest the fruits of her labour over the years. Her winning her first major is long overdue. There are not many golfers on the LPGA who enjoy the kind of popularity she enjoys. If she opens her major account this year, rest assured there will be a grand celebration the like of which has been experienced by very few golfers, particularly on social media.

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