The scoreboard at the 39th Curtis Cup Match will say the USA is tied, 3-3, with Great Britain and Ireland after winning two of the available three points in Friday afternoon’s four-ball session at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club. However, the outcome could have been vastly different if the USA’s Bailey Tardy and Monica Vaughn hadn’t delivered a point at the end of the morning foursomes.
The USA was looking at a possible 2½- or 3-point deficit. Instead, the Americans’ 1-up decision over Meghan MacLaren and Maria Dunne provided much-needed momentum and a psychological boost to the rest of captain Robin Burke’s team.
“If we had lost all three, it would have been hard for the girls to pick themselves up,” said Burke. “We feel fortunate that it’s 3-3.”
Recent Curtis Cup history suggests going down 3-0 after the first foursomes session is not an insurmountable deficit. GB&I built such a lead at Formby Golf Club in England in 2004 and lost the Match. The Americans did the same thing at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland four years ago and lost. Momentum in team competitions can be fleeting, and can often turn on a single shot.
Tardy and Vaughn not only changed the USA’s fortunes, they came out in the afternoon and collected another victory.
“Bailey and Monica have really stepped up to the plate and they’re playing well together,” said Burke. “They’re both long hitters and they like to have a lot of fun. They’re fun to watch.”
Tardy, 19, of Peachtree Corners, Ga., and Vaughn, 21, of Reedsport, Ore., were 3 down with 10 to play before rallying to square the match with a conceded par on No. 14 and two-putting the 18th from 50 feet. Tardy lagged her long birdie putt beautifully up the slope, and then Vaughn, breathing as heavily as she ever has in a competition, calmly dropped the 3-foot par putt to clinch the much-needed point.
“That momentum going into the back nine was huge for us,” said Vaughn, a rising senior at Arizona State University, of winning the ninth hole to trim the deficit to 2 down. “We kind of said, ‘Hey let’s go, there’s a lot of golf left.’ It was huge. Our point in the morning maybe even helped our team in the afternoon.”
Reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Hannah O’Sullivan, 18, of Chandler, Ariz., felt the swing. Paired for the second time with Mariel Galdiano, 17, of Pearl City, Hawaii – the two lost their morning foursomes match – O’Sullivan got hot with her putter and the team was the equivalent of 6 under par in defeating Olivia Mehaffey, 18, of Northern Ireland, and Charlotte Thomas, 23, of England. O’Sullivan, No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR), registered all six of the team’s birdies, including 35-footers on Nos. 16 and 18.