USA Builds Commanding 9-3 Lead, Closer to Reclaiming Curtis Cup
June 9, 2018 | Scarsdale, N.Y
By David Shefter, USGA
The USA appears on the verge of reclaiming the Curtis Cup from Great Britain and Ireland.
After earning five of the available six points to grab a 9-3 lead on Saturday – including a sweep of the three morning four-ball encounters, captain Virginia Derby Grimes’ charges need just 1½ of the available eight points in Sunday’s singles to return the Cup to American soil after a three-point defeat in 2016 in the Republic of Ireland.
Kristen Gillman, 20, of Austin, Texas, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and a rising junior at the University of Alabama, improved to 4-0-0 in the three-day biennial competition, winning her morning four-ball match with reigning NCAA individual champion Jennifer Kupcho, 3 and 2, and her afternoon foursomes match with Alabama teammate Lauren Stephenson, 6 and 5.
Gillman has a chance to match American Stacy Lewis (2008) and England’s Bronte Law (2016) by going 5-0-0 in a single Match since the format was changed to three days a decade ago.
“Today was a really great day,” said Stephenson. “Probably even better than we expected. Every single person played really well from morning to afternoon. We all fought really hard and it's really fun to be able to be so excited for each other.”
Despite making just two birdies over 13 holes, Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif., and reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Sophia Schubert, 22, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., still managed to post a 7-and-5 victory over Paul Grant and Shannon McWilliam in the afternoon foursomes session. Li and Schubert won a hole with a bogey and another with a double bogey.
The lone bright spot for GB&I came from the tandem of Olivia Mehaffey, 20, of Northern Ireland, and Sophie Lamb, 20, of England. The duo registered their second foursomes victory of the competition, defeating Kupcho, the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, and world No. 1 Lilia Vu, 2 and 1. Mehaffey is one of two returning players from the victorious 2016 team and the side’s highest-ranked golfer in the WAGR (No. 16), while Lamb was the low amateur in last year’s Women’s British Open.
Kupcho and Vu only managed one birdie, which came on the par-5 first hole, and it was matched by Mehaffey and Lamb. The GB&I duo won the second hole with a conceded birdie and never looked back, building as much as a 3-up lead. The two sides halved the final holes of the match.
“I love games where your opponents are really coming at you and the golf is really good,” said Mehaffey. “It comes down to those putts and it comes down to those moments, and it’s the reason you practice. I love matches that are high quality and that was definitely a high-quality match.”
Eight singles matches will be contested on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT with Sophia Schubert, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion, facing Great Britain and Ireland stalwart Olivia Mehaffey. The remaining seven matches will go off in 10-minute increments. The USA needs 1.5 points to reclaim the Curtis Cup. GB&I would need to win seven of the available eight points to retain it.
- This was the first USA sweep in a four-ball session since 2010 when the Americans swept the entire day en route to a 12.5-7.5 victory at Essex County Club.
- GB&I’s Olivia Mehaffey and Sophie Lamb became just the second tandem to play all four sessions together since the format was changed to a three-day event in 2008. Georgia Hall and Stephanie Meadow played all four sessions in 2014 at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club for GB&I.
- The USA has a chance to register the most points in the three-day Curtis Cup era. The USA totaled 13 points in 2008, the first year the Curtis Cup went to three days, and again in 2014. It registered 12.5 points in 2010.
Olivia Mehaffey on the disappointment of being down by six points, but producing 2.5 points with Sophie Lamb:
“Elaine told us to go out and take care of our point, and Sophie and I took care of our point, and there’s not much more we could have done but win [Saturday] morning, as well. We played really well this afternoon. We played two amazing players (Kupcho and Vu), and it feels pretty good to get the win right now. Obviously, it’s a little disappointing in how the team has done, but I’m sure everyone will be pumped up [on Sunday].”
USA captain Virginia Derby Grimes on the message she gave her team:
“I just keep reminding them: stay focused, one shot at a time, stay in the moment and be patient on the greens. Out here that is what it is all about … We’re going to stay motivated. It’s not over until it’s over. Just go out there and play their games and enjoy the walk. It’s the same message. We’re not going to change anything.”
Great Britain and Ireland captain Elaine Farquharson-Black on her message to the team for Sunday's singles matches:
"We can still do it. Every single one of them can beat every single one of the Americans, and we've got to believe that, and we've got to go out fighting. We've got to win from the top. [We need] everybody contributing and making that point and taking it right down ... to the last match."
Andrea Lee on the enjoyment she had playing with Lucy Li in winning Saturday’s four-ball match:
“We had a lot of fun out there, got our handshake down and everything, and we were just laughing and joking and keeping each other really light and positive on the golf course. It was just really fun.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Social Scene
.@kristengillman and @LaurenSteph1 win their second foursome at the #CurtisCup with a 6&5 victory against Fuller & Clyburn from GB&I. USA is now up 9-2 in the match! #RollTide pic.twitter.com/ZYixY0UBuX— Alabama Women's Golf (@AlabamaWGolf) June 9, 2018