MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. – On a negative note, the Americans failed to set a record for margin of victory. That’s right, the 1982 U.S. team can still lay claim to that honor (14 1/2 – 3 1/2), but it’s such a trivial matter in light of yet another blitz that has been put into the Curtis Cup books.
Anchored by the show’s most dominating performer, Alexis Thompson, the Americans won four of eight singles matches Sunday to complete an overwhelming victory over Great Britain & Ireland, 12 1/2 – 7 1/2, at Essex County Club.
Though she made just three birdies, Thompson took advantage of sloppy play by Sally Watson to score a 6-and-5 triumph. A short time later, Jennifer Johnson whipped Rachel Jennings, 5 and 4, to provide the clinching point.
Not that folks were hanging anxiously, mind you. We are, after all, talking about an event that was pretty much put away the day before when the U.S. won all six team matches to build an 8 1/2 – 3 1/2 lead. And we are talking about a competition that really doesn’t live up to the spirit of that word. Want proof? Well, for your consideration:
• The Americans are now 27-6-3 since this Curtis Cup business started in 1932.
• They have won seven in a row, the last loss coming in 1996.
• Over that seven-match winning streak, the Americans have outscored their GB&I counterparts, 78-52.
• As good as this streak is, it doesn’t come close to the Americans’ best stretch in this competition – from 1960 to 1984 it was 13 in a row for the Red, White and Blue.
If this sounds familiar, think Ryder Cup, for that, too, never was much of a competition. At least until they fell into an answer that Curtis Cup organizers might want to think about.
That is, Europe.
OK, so it’s a conversation the Ladies Golf Union probably doesn’t want to get involved with, but it might be the only way to keep this Curtis Cup business relevant. It surely worked wonders for the Ryder Cup, which was basically out of business until the doors were open to Spain, Sweden, Germany and the rest of Europe.
The fact that even an iconic figure as Jack Nicklaus recognized the lackluster status of the Ryder Cup in the mid-1970s and advocated Europe’s inclusion lends instant credibility to a concept Curtis Cup officials would be wise to consider.
Unless, that is, the same ol’, same ol’ is what folks are striving for. If so, then by all means, keep things as they are.
Just don’t blame people if they lose interest.
• • •
With a cool, gloomy fog enveloping Essex CC, it felt like the final day of competition was being played in a bowl of chowda (that’s right, chowda, since not only are we in New England, we are in one of the premier clam areas in the world).
If the young visitors had any chance of pulling off a miracle comeback, they needed a strong start and Danielle McVeigh was up to the task. At 22 the oldest competitor in the 16-player field, McVeigh eagled the par-5 fifth to seize the lead and went on to beat reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Jennifer Song, 3 and 2.
It was McVeigh’s first win of the competition, while Song finished 2-2-1.
What it did not do, however, was ignite any sort of momentum, because Thompson rolled in the second match, Johnson in the third, and that pretty much left GB&I just playing for pride.
That pride did shine through in the color of green – as in 15-year-old twins Lisa and Leona Maguire from Ireland. Bitterly disappointed by their loss in Saturday morning’s four-ball match, the young girls each came through in singles, Lisa beating Kimberly Kim, 1 up, Leona rolling past Tiffany Lua, 2 and 1.
GB&I’s other victory came in the final match, Holly Clyburn winning three straight holes down the stretch to edge Stephanie Kono, 2 and 1.
• • •
With a 4-0-1 record, it’s hard to overlook Thompson’s impressive performance.
In five matches she played a total of 81 holes, led for 50 of them, and trailed for just six.
She was at her very best when captain Noreen Mohler needed her most, the lead-off match Saturday morning. Having been stunned in Day 1, 3 1/2 – 2 1/2, the Americans needed to rebound quickly Saturday and Thompson made sure that happened. The 15-year-old started birdie-birdie-birdie, made six in all, as she and Jessica Korda beat McVeigh and Pamela Prestwell, 2 and 1.
Johnson was America’s second best player, going 3-0-1. She played a total of 64 holes, trailed for just 13 of them, led for 34.
In a key match early Friday, Johnson and Song were 2 down through 16, but rallied to win 17 and 18 and gain a valuable half point.
• • •
Final results from the Curtis Cup, played June 11-13 at the par-70, 6,247-yard Essex County Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.:
TOTAL: U.S. 12 1/2, Great Britain & Ireland 7 1/2
Danielle McVeigh (GB&I) def. Jennifer Song, 3 and 2
Alexis Thompson (U.S.) def. Sally Watson, 6 and 5
Jennifer Johnson (U.S.) def. Rachel Jennings, 5 and 4
Lisa Maguire (GB&I) def. Kimberly Kim, 1 up
Cydney Clanton (U.S.) def. Hannah Barwood, 4 and 3
Leona Maguire (GB&I) def. Tiffany Lua, 2 and 1
Jessica Korda (U.S.) def. Pamela Pretswell, 4 and 3
Holly Clyburn (GB&I) def. Stephanie Kono, 2 and 1
Match 1: Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda (USA) def. Danielle McVeigh and Pamela Pretswell (GB&I), 2 and 1
Match 2: Jennifer Song and Cydney Clanton (USA) def. Leona Maguire and Lisa Maguire (GB&I), 3 and 2
Match 3: Kimberly Kim and Stephanie Kono (USA) def. Sally Watson and Rachel Jennings (GB&I), 2 up
Match 1: Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda (USA) def. Danielle McVeigh and Leona Maguire (GB&I), 3 and 1
Match 2: Jennifer Song and Stephanie Kono (USA) def. Hannah Barwood and Holly Clyburn (GB&I), 3 and 1
Match 3: Tiffany Lua and Jennifer Johnson (USA) def. Sally Watson and Rachel Jennings (GB&I), 3 and 2
Match 1: Sally Watson and Rachel Jennings (GB&I) halved with Jennifer Song and Jennifer Johnson (USA)
Match 2: Hannah Barwood and Holly Clyburn (GB&I) halved with Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda (USA)
Match 3: Danielle McVeigh and Leona Maguire (GB&I) halved with Cydney Clanton and Stephanie Kono (USA)
Match 1: Danielle McVeigh and Pamela Pretswell (GB&I) def. Jennifer Song and Kimberly Kim (USA), 4 and 3
Match 2: Alexis Thompson and Jennifer Johnson (USA) def. Rachel Jennings and Leona Maguire (GB&I), 3 and 2
Match 3: Sally Watson and Lisa Maguire (GB&I) def. Jessica Korda and Tiffany Lua (USA), 1 up