MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. – Jennifer Song was the first to throw down the verbal gauntlet at the 2010 Curtis Cup: “Going into this tournament, all we’re thinking about is kicking some butts out there.”
Song, a straight-laced Korean-American who takes life seriously, delivered this message matter-of-factly and with little excitement. Her tone didn’t exactly match her words. But when you have a record like Song’s, you can say virtually whatever you like, however you like.
Undeniably the most decorated player in this field, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links champion says she considers playing this week a great honor, and it’s easy to take her seriously. Like Alexis Thompson, Song plans to turn professional after the Curtis Cup, though she said that next step isn’t on her mind this week.
The U.S. team arrived in Massachusetts on Sunday and had a packed schedule, though two days involved little golf. On Wednesday, they went into Boston and took a Duck Tour before practicing in the afternoon. (Thompson was “amazed the truck went into the water.”) In the evening, they dined alongside past players, where Song was blown away with meeting team veterans of the 1950s.
“Even if you double my age, I still wouldn’t be born,” said Song, 20.
This week is a history lesson for players, as they learn about the women who began the Curtis Cup – sisters Margaret and Harriot Curtis. The philanthropic pair learned the game here at Essex County Club, a Donald Ross design that first hosted the competition in 1938.
Great Britain & Ireland captain Mary McKenna met Harriot Curtis when she played in her first Curtis Cup, in 1970. When asked for her impressions of Curtis, McKenna said “elderly.” Harriot died in 1974 at age 93.
With several top GB&I returnees turning pro, the U.S. looks incredibly strong on paper. But, McKenna knows what it takes to win on foreign soil. GB&I won in 1986 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., though the odds were against them. In fact, they needed only one point on Sunday in the singles competition to take the Cup. McKenna points to 22-year-old Danielle McVeigh as the team’s leader. The former Texas A&M player won the Scottish Ladies Amateur in April.
McKenna, a veteran of nine successive Curtis Cups, said her players don’t need to “think they need to play like God” to beat the Americans
It’s match play. Mistakes here are more easily forgiven.