NAIRN, Scotland — Call it the Comeback Cup.
That’s what the 37th Curtis Cup will be remembered for. Great Britain & Ireland came back from the dead to win 10.5 – 9.5 and triumph in the biennial competition for the first time in eight matches.
Trailing 6.5 – 5.5 after the first four sessions and needing to win the singles 5-3 to claim the title, GB&I was up to the task.
Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow earned the winning point for GB&I. With the score already at 9.5 to 8.5 for GB&I, Meadow’s match against Amy Anderson suddenly turned into the decider.
The Alabama player was never behind against Anderson. She moved 1 up at the par-5 10th hole with a birdie, and then went 2 up at 11 with another birdie.
Another crucial birdie followed when she holed a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 15 to go dormie. She closed out the match at the next when Anderson found rough off the tee.
“I just got it done,” said Meadow about her 4-and-2 win. “We just believed in ourselves and believed we could do it.
“I knew all along that it would come down to my match. I was watching the boards. I knew how the first four matches had gone so I knew what I had to do.
“There was pressure but that’s what we practice for. That’s the whole point of playing golf to come down the 15th, 16th hole with hundreds of people watching, and to be able to win the Curtis Cup.”
No U.S. team has ever lost the Curtis Cup after sweeping the first foursomes session 3-0, which the U.S. did on Friday. Only one U.S. team had lost the Cup after taking a lead into the singles. Twenty-four times the U.S. had done that and won, the sole exception coming in 1956 at Prince’s Golf Club, England.
Moreover, of the previous 36 final singles sessions, the U.S. had won 19 and lost just five, with 12 draws.
Meadow follows in the footsteps of a few Irish players to win important matches to win cups. Christy O’Conner (1989), Philip Walton (1995), Paul McGinley (2002) and Graeme McDowell two years ago all got important points in the Ryder Cup to retain or win the cup.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Meadow said of getting the winning point.
It’s a credit to the GB&I side that Meadow was given the chance to get the winning point, because it didn’t look good for GB&I early on at Nairn.
After just 20 minutes, GB&I was down in the first two matches. In fact, Kelly Tidy was 3 down to Austin Ernst after six holes, and Amy Boulden was 2 down to Emily Tubert after eight holes. GB&I’s chances looked doomed.
However, the two GB&I girls fought back to win both matches. Tidy won Nos. 7, 8 and 9 to square the match, then went ahead with a birdie at the 12th hole. She eventually ran out a 2-and-1 winner to draw first blood for GB&I.
Boulden birdied Nos. 9 and 11 and then won No. 11 with a par to go 1 up, ending up a 3-and-1 winner.
“That was the turning point really,” Boulden said. “I holed good birdie putts and then didn’t let her get back in the match.
“Kelly and I had to come back to get those points for the team to take the pressure off the last few matches. I was just trying to get the job done. I was just trying to hit fairways and greens and hole some putts.”
Tegwen Matthews said she was confident going into the singles. Many GB&I captains have uttered similar brave words only to lose, but Tegwen’s faith was rewarded. Meadow gave her skipper credit for the victory.
“Tegwen was motivating,” Meadow said. “She was a great captain. She was positive, great preparing. She just knew exactly what to do. I’m happy that we could do it for her.”
It is only the seventh win in 37 matches for GB&I, with 27 losses and three ties.
The GB&I side made a little extra history over the Nairn links. Not only did the eight girls win the Cup for the first time since 1996, but for the first time ever the Curtis Cup, Walker Cup, Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup reside on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
You could say GB&I achieved a grand slam at Nairn in this Comeback Cup.