Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass. – While Jennifer Song ended her amateur career on Sunday at the Curtis Cup with a loss in singles and already was looking forward to future LPGA Tour fortunes, the woman who vanquished her, Danielle McVeigh of Ireland, was pondering a more modest conquest.
“I’m just thinking about getting dinner right now,” the lanky leader of the Great Britain and Ireland squad said Sunday when asked about her plans beyond this weekend.
If that sounded like she was avoiding the answer, she was not. McVeigh was simply being her father’s daughter, and he would have approved of the response.
Thomas McVeigh didn’t have the chance to attend the 2010 Curtis Cup Match at Essex County Club, but he was very much here in spirit. Before he passed away last month from cancer at the age of 53, he imparted enough wisdom and golfing know-how to his daughter that helped make her the shining light amid the gloom of the GB&I team’s seventh consecutive setback in this biennial competition.
Danielle’s 3-and-2 singles victory over Song, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, on a chilly and foggy New England day, gave her 2½ of the 7½ points the visitors managed against a heavily favored and more seasoned USA team.
McVeigh accomplished the task for which she was charged – to get the GB&I team out front early and see if she could build any momentum and stop the USA onslaught from the day prior.
That McKenna would have chosen McVeigh to venture out first was hardly surprising given what she’s said just about the 22-year-old prior the competition: “Danielle is in a class of her own. She will lead my team. At 22, she's the oldest player but she's also a great character.”
Possessing a cherubic face that belies her toughness as a golfer, the 6-foot-1 McVeigh took control against Song with an eagle at the par-5 fifth hole after ripping a 5-iron to 20 feet and converting. At the long par-4 eighth she showed she was not going away, sinking a 60-foot putt.
Song didn’t win a hole until the 11th, when McVeigh bogeyed, but the Irishwoman, who honed her game at famed Royal County Down (site of 2008 Walker Cup Match), never offered any further breathing room.
“She’s a good player. She knows the game and what she wants to do on the golf course,” said McVeigh’s caddie for the week, Tom Meaney, a south Boston native who for the last 11 years has caddied at The Country Club in nearby Brookline. “Whatever she chooses to do in the game, I think she’s going to do well because she doesn’t lean on anyone else when she’s playing.”
Self-reliance and patience on the course she also learned from her father. She recalled a time when he caddied for her in a junior match, and she asked him where she stood. “He just told me, ‘I’ll tell you where you are when you need to know.’ I won the next hole, and my opponent came over to shake my hand. That’s when he said, ‘Now you need to know.’ He wanted me to focus on my golf; he wouldn’t let me think too far ahead.”
And she won’t do it now, either. McVeigh, who played two seasons at Texas A&M University, has one year remaining at the National University of Ireland, where she is studying business and management. Her goal is simply to finish school.
“I’m in no hurry to decide,” she said. “Right now, I don’t need to close any door or open any new ones.”
All she wanted was a good meal and a few hours of enjoyment with her teammates before heading back to Ireland. Her mom, Lucy, and one of her five siblings, sister Shauna, made the trip this week with Danielle, and they were there to hug her on the 16th green when she closed out Song.
Her dad was there, too. She was sure of it.
“He would have been in tears here, he’d have enjoyed it so much,” McVeigh said. “But, you know, I could feel him out there with me, all the way to the end.”
Dave Shedloski is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.