COUNTY MEATH, IRELAND – Facing a two-point deficit entering the final session at the Junior Solheim Cup, the U.S. team won seven singles matches in soggy conditions Wednesday to force a 12-all tie and retain the Cup at Knightsbrook Golf Club.
The Americans were led by Jaye Marie Green, a University of Florida commit and the fourth-ranked player in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, who tallied a team-high 2 1/2 points during the two-day competition.
On Wednesday, when the temperatures dipped into the 40s and the wind gusted to 35 mph, Green won her singles match to set the tone, then in the final three groups Americans Esther Lee, Lindsey Weaver and Karen Chung went a combined 2-0-1 to edge Europe, 7-5, in the format. Because they won the Cup when last it was played, in 2009 at Aurora Golf Club in Illinois, the Americans retained the title.
“I’m not even sure I can put into words how I’m feeling right now,” said U.S. captain Meg Mallon, according to a report in the Irish Times. “I didn’t know these kids very well at the start of the week. I knew their records (all 12 players are inside the top 32 in Golfweek’s rankings), but it wasn’t until I watched them play that I worked out what they could do.
“Today, basically, what I tried to do was to put my energy players out first and my calm putters out last, and I’d like to think it worked.”
The U.S. team fell behind, 5-1, after the morning foursomes on Tuesday, the only point secured with a 2-and-1 victory by Mariah Stackhouse and Green. But in the afternoon four-balls, the Americans received full points from the teams of Weaver-Stackhouse, Green-Ashlan Ramsey, McKenzie Talbert-Summar Roachell and Gabriella Then-Emma Talley – including a critical half-point from Alison Lee-Esther Lee – to cut the deficit to 7-5 after Day 1.
The tie at this year’s event brings the United States’ overall record in the Junior Solheim Cup to 3-2-1 (both losses were overseas, in 2007 and ’03). Now, the American team will spend the rest of the week watching the professionals compete in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle.
According to the AJGA, Stackhouse, a Stanford commit from Riverdale, Ga., said at the closing ceremonies: “I’m so proud of the way we hung in there after falling behind so quickly. No one ever got down, and we remained focused as a team. I’m so proud to have played with these girls and played our hearts out for our country.”