St. Louis – Ellen Port once said one of the things she loves the most about golf is that, at times, it’s preposterous. The U.S. Curtis Cup captain woke up Sunday morning, however, hoping nothing wildly strange would happen on this day.
And it didn’t.
Emma Talley, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, went out in the first match of singles competition and secured the winning the point. The Americans needed only one point on Sunday afternoon to regain the cup, and they made quick work of it. England’s Bronte Law three-putted the 15th green to give Talley a 4-and-3 victory.
“It was a privilege that I got to go out first,” said Talley, who proved a crowd favorite at St. Louis Country Club.
The U.S. won by a score of 13-7 on June 8, bringing the series’ tally to 27-7-3. It’s an historically lopsided affair, but tradition trumps any talk of change. GB&I won’t hear of the rest of of Europe crashing their party.
“This is the one thing our players strive for,” said Mary McKenna, who played in nine cups for the GB&I and captained two teams. “Money, TV it loses tradition and I don’t think we can afford to lose tradition.”
GB&I won the singles session 4-3-1, displaying the sort of vigor they’d shown all week. It was the only session they’d win, though long after the match had been decided.
“That’s a great way to finish,” said GB&I captain Tegwen Matthews, “gives everyone a bit of a boost to say the least from a pretty disastrous two days.”
The tone of the championship began with the first match out in Friday four-balls, with Mariah Stackhouse and Talley making eight birdies in 17 holes with no bogeys, winning 2 and 1. Stephanie Meadow and Georgia Hall were 6 under, with no bogies. Meadow called it the best match she’s ever been a part of. Hall was simply speechless.
“Well, that was bashing it at us, there’s no doubt about it,” Matthews said.
The U.S. swept that opening session 3-0 and set a standard the visitors couldn’t match.
“We just didn’t hole any putts,” Matthews said, summing up the week.
Shortly after Talley secured the winning putt on Sunday afternoon, Hall came through the 15th hole 2 up in her match against USC’s Kyung Kim, who had been firing on all cylinders all week. Kim had won the last two holes coming into 15 and stuck her third shot into the par 5 to 2 feet.
The crowd roared.
Hall answered by holing her third from 95 yards for eagle. The crowd erupted, with many fans left shaking their heads in awe at the fine display. It was indicative of the level of play all week.
England’s Hall closed out the match on the 16th with par, winning 3 and 2.
It’s unfortunate that the anchor match of Alison Lee and Meadow, the top two players in the Golfweek college rankings, meant nothing.
Meadow defeated Lee, 2 and 1, giving her at least a personal boost. There was no shortage of heart or effort on the losing side.
Meadow will now head back to Alabama to pack up her college apartment before heading to Pinehurst, N.C., to make her professional debut at the U.S. Women’s Open. Ally McDonald and Talley will compete in the Women’s Open as amateurs.
Talley and Lee led the Americans with 3 1/2 points each.
Jim Holtgrieve, a two-time Walker Cup captain and fellow St. Louis legend, told Port to “get ready for the best week of your golfing life.”
Port was hopeful but skeptic.
“How can it be that great?” Port wondered. After all, she’d played in two Curtis Cups herself and has won six USGA titles.
But, as Port made the rounds after the closing ceremony, clutching the silver cup in her hands as she posed for pictures with players, family and friends, she gushed about the experience. It was about as storybook as they come: Hometown treasure leads the U.S. to resounding victory at a storied course celebrating its 100th birthday.
“That is the most special trophy, always, that I will ever have, and ever have been a part of,” said Port.