Golf: Butler confident of Curtis Cup success

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THE GREAT Britain and Ireland captain, Ita Butler, believes a strong team spirit could prove crucial to her team's chances of beating America and retaining the biggest prize in amateur women's golf - the Curtis Cup - in Minneapolis this weekend.

The British and Irish side have won the event only six times since its inception in 1932, although they have dominated affairs over recent years, having won four, shared one and lost just once since 1986.

Butler's team have been in Spain to get to know each other and to become familiar with the fast greens they will encounter in America. Butler feels the trip has been beneficial and is confident of her players' abilities.

"I won't predict the outcome but I will say that if anyone makes a slip on the course they will pay the price," she said. "We have an excellent team spirit. The girls love the course and are playing well."

At the last tournament in Killarney, the home team were winners by a convincing 11-6 margin and three players from that team are in this year's line-up: Elaine Ratcliffe and Karen Stupples who are both 25, and Alison Rose who is 30.

Making debut appearances are Kim Rostron from Clitheroe and Hoylake's Fiona Brown - both 24 - Rebecca Hudson, who at 19 is the youngest in the side, Scotland's Hilary Monaghan and Becky Morgan from Wales.