Should the American players need any more motivation than winning and retaining the Curtis Cup, they need only look in the direction of Captain Pat Cornett – or, specifically, the cast on her right ankle.
"We have a lot of good vibes on that cast," joked Cornett of a cast that has been signed by her players. Cornett suffered a broken right ankle in a golf cart accident just after the final four-ball pairing teed off on Friday afternoon in the 37th biennial competition at The Nairn Golf Club.
Surely a boost to Cornett’s spirits was the USA’s 6-3 overall lead through Saturday morning’s foursomes matches. Even more impressive was America’s 5-1 record in foursomes (alternate-shot), long considered to be a weakness.
"I could not have scripted it better," said Cornett, a two-time Curtis Cup participant herself in 1978 and 1988. "We focused on [foursomes] a lot during both our practice session in January and then mentally preparing for it here.
"I think there is a different approach to the foursome play, how you approach the shot and your partner. Again that's not a format we do very much back in America, so it requires an adjustment. I thought the girls were just amazing."
The respective teams of Amy Anderson and Tiffany Lua, and Austin Ernst and Brooke Pancake each went 2-0 in foursomes. Anderson and Lua led after 32 of the combined 33 holes of their two matches, only dropping to all square once.
Great Britain and Ireland Captain Tegwen Matthews was slightly taken aback after Saturday’s foursomes.
"It is a bit disappointing because I think we could and should have got one more point out of it," she said.
GB&I’s Holly Clyburn and Amy Boulden held a 3-up lead through the sixth hole against Ernst and Pancake, but that advantage evaporated after the ninth hole.
"I don’t think we halved a hole on the front, then they won three in a row and had all of the momentum," said Ernst after teaming with Pancake for a 2-up win. "We were just trying to get some of it back. We struggled a little bit coming in, but part of that was the weather, part of that was making a couple of bad swings. Then we made some putts to pull it out in the end."
On Friday, after x-rays and having the cast set, Cornett was back with her team by dinner.
"I just said how proud I was of them and way to go," she said.
On Saturday, riding shotgun in a cart with Carol Semple Thompson, a 12-time USA Curtis Cup participant and two-time captain who served as interim captain for Friday afternoon’s matches, Cornett admitted she used her crutches as motivation a couple of times. She was sending the message that someone else is worse off.
Asked if Cornett has imparted any special motivational words since arriving back to the team, Ernst flashed a wry southern smile and said: "Go get’em … just go get’em."
The Americans have responded in fitting fashion.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on the USGA’s championship websites.