Nairn, Scotland – Amy Anderson stood behind The Nairn Golf Club’s 18th green early Saturday evening having just lost her four-ball match with teammate Emily Tubert. Anderson was not dejected, but answered questions with a wide smile and enthusiasm.
Disappointed to not have earned even a half point for the United States? Absolutely.
But Anderson, 19, of Oxbow, N.D., is relishing this 37th Curtis Cup Match, which heads into Sunday with the Americans leading 6½ -5½ after Great Britain and Ireland rallied with 2½ points in the afternoon.
“I am a little amped up,” Anderson said. “I think there is a lot of adrenaline running on both sides right now.”
The United States went into the afternoon leading 6-3, having won two of the three morning matches to finish this Curtis Cup 5-1 in a foursomes (alternate-shot) format that traditionally is not its strongest.
“We worked on [foursomes] a lot,” Anderson said. “We played a lot of our practice rounds this week and then also we had a practice in January where we played alternate quite a bit, because we knew that was going to be our weakness.”
Where the Americans have failed to capitalize, though, is playing their own individual ball. Outside of Anderson and Emily Tubert, 20, of Burbank, Calif., teaming for a 4-and-3 win in the opening four-ball (best-ball) match on Friday, the Americans have led after just one of 42 holes played on the second nine in the remaining five matches.
“I was looking at leaderboards when we were walking by, so I knew it was going to be a really close day,” said Erica Popson, 21, of Davenport, Fla., who teamed with Tiffany Lua, 21, of Rowland Heights, Calif., in a 2-down loss to Stephanie Meadow, 20, of Northern Ireland, and Pamela Pretswell, 23, of Scotland. “Walking up the [18th] fairway, I thought [GB&I] had won the first two matches, so I was like, ‘I have to get a half a point.’ But we battled it out. I wish it could have come out a different way, but that's golf.”
USA Captain Pat Cornett said, when asked if she was as surprised by the team’s lack of success in four-balls compared to how well it has fared in foursomes: “Maybe not equally, but I thought we may have had a bit more.”
Brooke Pancake, 22, of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Austin Ernst, 20, of Seneca, S.C., who had paired to win both their foursome matches, salvaged USA’s lone half point Saturday afternoon, and it proved to be the difference in this Match not being tied.
Given the 3-0 hole that GB&I dug from the outset, Kelly Tidy, 20, of England, is buoyed by how her team has recovered.
“We feel like we’ve done well,” said Tidy, who paired with 20-year-old Holly Clyburn, of England, for the 1-up win over Anderson and Tubert. “Down 3-0 is not what you’re looking for in any case, but to fight from behind is very hard, especially against the Americans because they don’t do much wrong.”
When asked if she was concerned that GB&I was gaining momentum, Cornett was straightforward in her answer.
“You have to look at the scoreboard. If I recollect correctly, I think we're ahead,” Cornett said.
As evening draped over this 125-year-old club, both teams know that Sunday will be an epic clash. While the Americans are believed to have the greater depth, GB&I has a fervent home crowd working on its behalf.
This Curtis Cup Match has attracted nearly 5,600 spectators through the first two days. The closeness of the matches, along with suitable weather conditions, are expected to attract another large gathering for the eight singles matches.
As GB&I rallied on Saturday, the Americans got a taste of what awaits.
“We could hear [the crowds], and they were loud,” Ernst said. “If anything it fuels the fire and makes us more motivated.”
The Americans are ready.
“I think we will all be fine,” Ernst added. “I think we will all feed off of what we hear and I think we’re all going to try to go out there and go as low as we possibly can.”
Anderson, who will go out seventh in the USA’s singles lineup, cannot wait.
“This is why we play golf,” said Anderson. “This is as good as it gets.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on the USGA’s championship websites.