U.S. closing in on Curtis Cup title in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS – Tegwen Matthews said it feels like the movie “Guns of Navarrone” here at the the Curtis Cup. Her GB&I team has spent the last two days dodging bullets from the Americans.
And Nos. 11-13 here at C.B. Macdonald’s 100-year-old track, well, she likened those holes to a noose tightening around any hope of a comeback during Saturday’s foursome session.
But make no mistake, despite a 9-2 lead for the Americans, Matthews still wears a smile.
“I’m a very optimistic person,” Matthews said. “Whilst there’s light there, there’s life.”
Darkness halted play on Saturday with one foursomes match left on the course. The U.S. leads that match 1 up through 15 holes, and a point there would give them a 3-0 sweep in Day 2 foursomes. It also means the Americans need to win only a half point in the singles session to win the cup.
“They brought the best,” said U.S. captain Ellen Port of her team’s dominant play.
Saturday’s foursomes session marked the first time GB&I looked like they might hang tough with the Americans. They were all square in the first two matches but then lost holes 11, 12 and 13 in both matches to kill any momentum.
“They are trying everything they can,” Matthews said. “The Americans are still playing exceptionally well and firing at the pins and holing a good number of putts. That’s really where we’re lacking.”
Matthews joked about using #needmorebirdies on Twitter.
Port chalks up the Americans’ success in large part to the home-course advantage. During Masters week, Team USA spent three days at St. Louis Country Club learning the greens.
“We played 36 holes on a Friday and they were dying,” said Port. The next day the team played an 18-hole match against top male amateurs in the area.
Matthews concurred that it’s the type of course “you’ve got to perhaps know very well.” She said they knew every blade of grass at Nairn in 2012.
As for the decision to play Alison Lee, Golfweek’s top-ranked college player in all five sessions, Port said that had as much do to with her partners, Kyung Kim and Ashlan Ramsey as it did with Lee.
“She’s a versatile player and does well with different people,” Lee said, “but Kyung and Ashlan are as much a part of that equation as Alison.”
Lee, the only player on the U.S. team to play in four sessions, leads all scorers with a 3-0-1 record. Kim, the girl known as “Radar,” has three points.
“I kind of almost collapsed on hole 15,” Lee said. “I just sat down on the grass.”
It was a terribly long day for everyone involved with two weather delays that totaled roughly 3 1/2 hours.
In the morning four-ball session, GB&I won its first match of the Cup on the 18th green in a gutsy comeback. The point did more than boost morale, it assured that Sunday’s singles matches are relevant.
Had Bronte Law and Annabel Dimmock not roared back from 2 down with three to play and simply halved their match against Annie Park and Erynne Lee, then a sweep in the afternoon foursomes session would’ve given Team USA the 10 1/2 points need to win.
Instead, GB&I entered the fourth session trailing the U.S. 7-2 at a soft St. Louis Country Club.
“Hugely courageous, and nothing less than I would expect from Bronte and Annabel quite honestly,” said Matthews.
Interestingly, Matthew said she chose to sideline Law and Dimmock, players responsible for 1 1/2 of GB&I’s two points, in the afternoon because she needed Charlotte Thomas and Eilidh Briggs to see the course one more time before singles. Plus she thought the team needed a “fresh pair of eyes” on the course.
Play was suspended for the last time at 8:30 p.m. It will resume at 11 a.m. for the final foursomes match. Singles will begin at 1:13 p.m.
Matthews rightfully believes it’s important to put someone out first who could send a message that would reverberate throughout the team.
Someone who could inspire a miracle.
“We have absolutely nothing to lose,” she said.