For the first time in two decades, the USA will face a deficit going into the final day of the Curtis Cup Match. Coincidentally, the biennial competition was conducted in the Republic of Ireland the last time that occurred.
After winning five of the available six points on Saturday, including a sweep of the afternoon’s four-ball matches, Great Britain and Ireland owns a commanding 8-4 lead entering Sunday’s eight singles matches at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, outside of Dublin. GB&I needs 2½ points to reclaim the Cup, while the USA needs six to retain it.
In 1996, the USA trailed 6-3 after the first day – the competition switched to three days in 2008 – at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club and eventually lost, 11½-6½. Since that Match, the only other USA defeat was four years ago at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, when GB&I rallied to win five of the eight singles matches for a 10½-9½ triumph.
Bronte Law, 21, of England, registered two points on Saturday with partner Olivia Mehaffey, 18, of Northern Ireland, to remain unblemished at 4-0. A win on Sunday would make Law, No. 4 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, the second player in Match history to post a 5-0 record. The USA’s Stacy Lewis accomplished the feat on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2008, the year the Curtis Cup switched from two to three days.
“Obviously, we have a very, very strong team who are very capable of going out and winning all eight matches, let alone seven,” said Law, a UCLA junior who was the recipient of the 2016 Annika Award as the top collegiate golfer. “We fought the whole day. Every single hole, we grounded out. We holed the putts that we needed to. I’m so proud of my team right now. They did exactly what captain [Elaine Farquharson-Black] wanted us to do.”
As for the possibility of tying Lewis’ record, Law defused such talk.
“It’s not about doing something that’s been done before,” said Law, who owned a 2-4-2 overall mark in her two previous Curtis Cup appearances, including the 2012 win at Nairn. “[My focus] is to win my match for my team.”
Play was suspended for 1 hour, 45 minutes during the four-ball session due to heavy rain, but it didn’t affect GB&I.
When golf resumed at 4:15 p.m. local time, GB&I continued to build on its momentum from the morning foursomes, when it claimed two of three points for the second consecutive day.
Taking advantage of the soft conditions, the three GB&I four-ball sides were a combined 20 under par over 46 holes. The Americans, by contrast, were 9 under.
“Their players obviously had a good day, made a lot of putts,” said USA captain Robin Burke. “They played extremely well. A few of my players also played well. They just made … a lot more putts than we did. That’s how golf is sometimes. I don’t feel like they took the wind out of our sails. I think they lit a fire within us and we’ll be ready to go out and play hard tomorrow.”
World No. 2 Leona Maguire, 21, of the Republic of Ireland, and Charlotte Thomas, 23, of England, shot the equivalent of 8 under par in a 5-and-4 victory over world No. 1 Hannah O’Sullivan, 18, of Chandler, Ariz., and Mika Liu, 17, of Beverly Hills, Calif. With the match all square after four holes, the duo finished the final five holes of the outward nine in 6 under, including an eagle-3 by Maguire on the par-5 seventh, to go 3 up. Thomas, who helped the University of Washington win its first NCAA title on May 25, completed the run with a 25-foot birdie on No. 9.
“Today is a huge day for us,” said Maguire, a Duke University rising junior who won the Annika Award in 2015. “The U.S. is always strong in four-balls and for us to come out and go 3-0 is huge.”