OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -– Alison Lee snuck an occasional peek at the scoreboard during her singles match at the Junior Ryder Cup. The outcome of her match, and the Cup, had all but been decided, but she was chasing another honor.
Lee wanted to claim the winning point. “I kept looking up at the board,” Lee said. “I was counting the numbers.”
Lee earned the most important point with her 6-and-5 victory over Europe’s Linnea Strom, leading the United States to its third consecutive Junior Ryder Cup victory Tuesday at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. The host Americans beat Europe, 14 1/2-9 1/2.
Lee, a UCLA commit and member of the United States’ 2010 Junior Ryder Cup team, has a sterling junior-golf resume that includes an appearance in the final of this year’s U.S. Girls Junior, but she said clinching the winning point was one of the highlights of her career.
“It really feels good,” said Lee, No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings. “It feels amazing. I give credit to all my team too, because they’re the ones who built up those points. You can’t compare it. It’s something not a lot of people get to experience.”
The United States’ six girls – Casie Cathrea, Karen Chung, Casey Danielson, Samantha Wagner, Alison Lee and Esther Lee – deserve more than their share credit for this victory. They lost just one point in the nine matches between the teams’ female members, going 3-0 in Monday morning’s foursomes and 5-1 in Tuesday’s singles (the second of the three sessions was mixed four-balls, with one player of each gender comprising a team).
The United States started singles play with a 7-5 lead, needing to earn five points in Tuesday’s 12 singles matches to retain the Cup. The U.S. took care of business early, winning 4 1/2 points in the first five matches.
Cathrea opened the session with a 2-up victory over Emily Pedersen, closing out the match with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18. Champ followed with his halve with Tree. Champ birdied the uphill, par-5 18 for a third consecutive time to clinch the halve. He hit his second shot, a 4-iron from 262 yards, to 20 feet to match Tree’s birdie. “I knew I was a little juiced and I just nuked it,” said Champ, a Texas A&M commit. He went 2-0-1, the only United States boy to go undefeated this week. “It definitely meant a lot,” Champ said. “To help the team is something I’m really proud of.”
Chung made five birdies to beat Quirine Eijkenboom, 4 and 2. Robby Shelton, the Junior PGA champion, was a 2-and-1 winner over Renato Paratore. Danielson followed with a 3-and-2 victory over Harang Lee. Gavin Hall also won a point for the United States, beating Victor Tarnstrom, 2 and 1.
Chung, Cathrea and Esther Lee were the only players to go 3-0 this week. Alison Lee also was undefeated, going 2-0-1. Champ was the only undefeated American boy, going 1-0-2. Matthias Schwab and Gavin Moynihan were Europe’s only two undefeated players, both going 2-0-1. Schwab, the runner-up at this year’s British Amateur and the No. 11 player in the R&A World Amateur Ranking, has made a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt for the fall of 2013. Moynihan beat former U.S. Junior champion Jim Liu, 4 and 3, in singles.
Lee was 5 up at the turn in her match after making birdies on Nos. 4, 7 and 9. She closed out the match with a par at the 13th hole. More importantly, she closed out the Junior Ryder Cup.