U.S. increases Curtis Cup lead; GB&I needs a rally

Amy Boulden hits a shot for the GB&I squad.

NAIRN, Scotland – It’s not quite turn out the lights, the party’s over time in the 37th Curtis Cup, but it’s getting close.

The United States takes a 6-3 lead into the second fourball session at Nairn Golf Club after winning the morning foursomes, 2-1. With two sessions left, the visiting team needs just four points to retain the Cup and 4 1/2 points to win it outright.

“I could not have scripted it better,” U.S. captain Pat Cornett said. “We focused on that a lot during both our practice session in January and then mentally preparing here, so I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”

The U.S. can lessen the point gap with a good showing in the afternoon fourballs.

As with the first morning’s foursomes, the Americans got their tactics right in the alternate-shot format. They kept the ball in play better than GB&I, the team that should be used to foursomes golf.

Amy Anderson and Tiffany Lua were the epitome of controlled golf in a 3-and-2 victory over World. No. 5 Charley Hull and Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell. Anderson and Lua were just 1 over par for 16 holes in the wet and miserable conditions that plagued the Nairn links.

“We’ve been comfortable together since day one,” Lua said. “Our games are similar, and we have a lot of faith and trust in each other’s short games.”

The pair played together in a practice session in Palm Springs, Calif., in January and knew then that they would be suited to foursomes golf. “Our games just really gelled together,” said Anderson, who took her record to 3-0 in this match.

“I think the key to today’s win was just momentum and consistency,” Anderson said. “We won the first two holes, and that was important. We didn’t really get in trouble very much, and we tried to give ourselves chances every hole for par.”

Lua concurred that keeping the ball in play was key. “We’ve stuck with our game plan since day one, which is to hit fairways and greens and try to make a putt when we can.”

With the wet and miserable conditions making play tough, the GB&I pairing of Holly Clyburn and Amy Boulden found it hard to keep the ball in play in the second match. They went 1 up early against Austin Ernst and Brooke Pancake but were 3 down after six holes. The home pair battled back to level the match through 16 holes, but lost the last two holes with bogeys.

In fact, Clyburn and Boulden played the back nine in 43 strokes, 7 over par. That won’t cut it in foursomes golf.

GB& I’s only ray of sunshine came from the Northern Irish pair of Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow. They bounced back from a first-session thrashing of 5 and 4 to defeat Lindy Duncan and Lisa McCloskey, 3 and 1.

U.S. teams don’t normally throw away leads, so GB&I has its work cut out for it over the next two sessions.

“It’s a bit disappointing because I think we could and should have got more than one point out of it,” GB&I captain Tegwen Matthews said. “But we’re still in the game, and I really am confident we can get back at them.

“Yesterday morning, they (the U.S.) were a bit sharper around the greens than us, but I don’t think that was the case today. Our problem was that over the last four or five holes, we hit a few drives into the wrong places, and that cost us. Now we’ve got to go out there this afternoon and make amends.

“There’s no reason why we can’t do it. They are very focused.”

The problem for Matthews and the GB&I team is that the U.S. is just as focused.

The fat lady isn’t quite singing over the Nairn links, but she’s warming up her voice. It’s now an uphill battle for GB&I to win the cup for the first time since 1996.

Saturday afternoon four-ball draw (times local)

1:00 Emily Tubert & Amy Anderson vs. Holly Clyburn & Kelly Tidy

1:15 Brooke Pancake & Austin Ernst vs. Leona Maguire & Bronte Law

1:30 Erica Popson & Tiffany Lua vs. Stephanie Meadow & Pamela Pretswell

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