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Semple Thompson Leads USA to Curtis Cup Victory August 4, 2002 | Pittsburgh

(USGA/John Mummert)

Carol Semple Thompson, playing in her record 12th Curtis Cup Match, sank a 27-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to secure the USA's 11-7 victory over the team from the Great Britain & Ireland at the 32nd Match at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

"I can't believe I made the putt," Semple Thompson said.  "I was just trying to get it close and it just snuck in there."

The USA has now won three consecutive Curtis Cups, dating back to 1998.

For Semple Thompson, it was her 18th victory in Curtis Cup play, another record, and helped stave off a furious rally by the GB&I squad.

The USA held a 7-2 lead after Saturday's action, but two victories in Sunday morning's foursomes made the GB&I deficit 8-4.  Needing to capture 5½ points in the afternoon matches to earn a victory, the GB&I squad was at one point leading in four matches and all square in the remaining two matches.

Semple Thompson, who won four straight holes against Vikki Laing to go 1-up after being down three holes through seven, was all square heading into the 17th.  Semple Thompson hit her drive to 15 feet while Laing's tee shot entered the cavernous right bunker.  Laing's second shot didn't make it onto the green, and her third shot went 25 feet past the hole.  Semple Thompson putted to within a foot, and when Laing conceded the putt, Semple Thompson took a 1-up lead to set up the putt on 18.  After sinking her long birdie putt, Semple Thompson conceded Laing's putt to halve the hole and earn a 1-up victory. 

The point earned by that victory gave the USA its ninth point, enough to retain the Cup.  For Semple Thompson, a six-time individual USGA champion playing in front of a hometown crowd with seven collegiate teammates, the victory was extra sweet.

"It's such a fairy tale," she said.  "I just can't imagine it ending up this much fun."

Reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion Meredith Duncan's 3-and-1 win over Alison Coffey gave the USA 10 points and an outright victory.  The final USA point came when Laura Myerscough rebounded from being down five holes to earn a 2-up victory over Heather Stirling.

GB&I victories were earned by Rebecca Hudson over Mollie Fankhauser (3 and 1), Emma Duggleby over Leigh Anne Hardin (4 and 3), and Sarah Jones over Courtney Swaim (5 and 3).

For GB&I captain Pam Benka, her team's effort after a difficult first day almost did the trick, particularly after a strong start in the morning matches.

"We could have had a disastrous morning and the thing would have been over by lunchtime," Benka said.  "We still gave ourselves a fighting chance, and the talk in our changing rooms was that we were really going to go for it."

In the morning's foursomes action, Stirling and Laing defeated Hardin and Emily Bastel, 3 and 1.  Duggleby and Coffey combined for a 4-and-2 win over Duncan and Angela Jerman for the other GB & I victory.  Myerscough and Swaim defeated Hudson and Kerry Smith, 4 and 2, to win the only USA point.

Begun in 1932, the Curtis Cup is a biennial match for women's amateur golfers between a team from the United States of America and one from Great Britain and Ireland. Victory in a match scores one point. When a match goes 18 holes without a decision, one-half point is awarded to each team.

Three foursome (alternate shots of partners) matches and six singles matches are scheduled for each of the two days of competition.

The Match is conducted alternately in the USA and Great Britain and Ireland. The team winning the Cup takes custody for the ensuing two years. In case of a tie, the Cup remains with the previous winner. The USA now leads the series, 23-6-3.