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Casie Cathrea, snubbed by USGA for Curtis Cup, opts for early move to pro ranks

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Casie Cathrea, 18, of Livermore, was passed over for a spot on the 2014 USA Curtis Cup team, the roster for which was announced last Thursday by the USGA, in spite of a strong résumé of recent golf performance and her current 16th-place position in the World Amateur Rankings. Casie’s omission from the U. S. team constitutes a hiccup in her plans for her final season as an amateur, and has accelerated the timeline for her move into the professional ranks.

The Curtis Cup is a biannual women’s amateur golf competition which pits a team from the United States, selected and administered by the USGA, against a team from Great Britain and Ireland.

Casie was not selected for a spot on the team, despite a résumé which includes spots on two winning international junior golf teams (the 2012 USA Jr Ryder Cup and 2013 USA Jr Solheim Cup squads), and recent finishes that include winning the inaugural Women’s Porter Cup, in 2013; back-to-back San Francisco City Championship titles in 2013 and 2014; and the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open Amateur title.

Dan Burton, USGA Executive Committee vice president and chairman of the International Team Selection Committee, had this to say regarding Cathrea’s omission from the roster:

“The Curtis Cup Team is selected by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee. While we do not comment on the comprehensive process, this was a very difficult decision, selecting eight players to the team from among the many talented players across the country. Casie has an exemplary playing record and was certainly given strong consideration as the selection process unfolded.”

According to the latest Rolex Rankings, Cathrea is the 16th-ranked female amateur golfer in the world, ninth of the eleven American players in the top 25. She is ranked nine spots higher than at least one of the selectees for the U.S. Curtis Cup squad, and significantly higher – 71 positions – than one of the two alternates selected by the USGA.

The 8-woman 2014 USA Curtis Cup team was announced on Thursday, March 13. The team members hail from seven different states, and all are current collegiate players. Six universities are represented on the team, with California universities – Stanford, UCLA and USC – contributing five of the team’s eight members.

Cathrea, who was one of fourteen potential Curtis Cup team members who attended a training session in Houston late last January, left her scholarship position at Oklahoma State University after the fall season – a factor which her father, Harry Cathrea, feels is at least partly responsible for her having been passed over for a spot on the Curtis Cup team.

Cathrea was recruited by former Oklahoma State University Women’s golf coach Alan Bratton, accepting a golf scholarship to OSU to play on their Women’s Golf team, and headed for Stillwater last fall with a successful 2013 summer season in her wake.

A shakeup in the golf teams at OSU led to Coach Bratton’s elevation to the head coaching position for the OSU Men’s Golf squad, a move which resulted in his former assistant, Courtney Jones, taking over the head coach’s position for the OSU women.

Friction arose between Cathrea and Jones when the new head coach failed to honor agreements which her predecessor, Bratton, had entered into regarding Cathrea’s already well-developed workout and practice regimes.

Jones sat the reigning USWO Amateur champion out of competition partway through the fall season, and suspended Cathrea for failing to attend team workouts. The final result of the issues between Cathrea and Jones was that the Livermore teen gave up her scholarship, returning to California in January.

The decision to leave OSU was a hard one for Cathrea, who had campaigned in her remaining junior tournaments before college wearing OSU orange and housing her clubs in an OSU golf bag.

With college competition no longer a part of her playing future, Casie had been looking forward to a final summer of amateur competition before joining the professional ranks in the fall. She mounted a successful defense of her San Francisco City Championship title just last week, blitzing her final opponent, Anna Zhou, a junior at Gunn High in Palo Alto, 10 and 9 in the 36-hole final.

Along with the hoped-for spot on the Curtis Cup squad, Cathrea had planned to defend her Porter Cup title, then return to the U. S. Women’s Open for the last time as an amateur. In mid-February she applied for a sponsor’s exemption, as an amateur, into the field of the April 21–24, 2014, LPGA event, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.

With the Curtis Cup out of the picture, though, the long-hitting young lady from Livermore is planning to accelerate her transition to the professional ranks, with events on the LPGA’s developmental schedule, the Symetra Tour, in her future.

According to her father, the first step in Casie’s professional career will be to play in the qualifying tournament for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, on Monday, April 21, as a professional. Making her professional debut in an LPGA tournament on a local course which she knows very well – and where she happens to be the course record-holder – could be a significant first step into the professional ranks for Casie.

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