U.S. takes early lead at Curtis Cup, but GB&I grabs momentum from comebacks

USGA/Steven Gibbons

U.S. takes early lead at Curtis Cup, but GB&I grabs momentum from comebacks

Amateur

U.S. takes early lead at Curtis Cup, but GB&I grabs momentum from comebacks

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Team USA takes a 2-1 lead into afternoon foursomes at the Curtis Cup, but it feels as though Great Britain and Ireland actually carries the momentum after a pair of rousing comebacks. Down two holes with four to play in morning four-balls, Olivia Mehaffey stuffed a pitching wedge to 18 inches on the 17th and then drained a 12-foot par putt on the final hole to give GB&I half a point against NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho and Lucy Li.

“I knew not to give up,” said Mehaffey, who drew upon an experience from the 2016 Curtis Cup when she and Bronte Law battled back from 4 down to win.

Ten minutes later, 24-year-old Paula Grant dropped a 15-foot birdie on the 18th hole at Quaker Ridge Golf Club to bring the final match to all square against Lauren Stephenson and Sophia Schubert.

“My caddie, he thought it was right to left, but in my head, I was like it looks like it’s going to go both ways,” said Grant, who works as an optometrist in Ireland. “Just hit it straight and hit a good pace and it should take both the turns. … That was a really good feeling.”

The only drumming came in the middle match, where Lilia Vu and Kristen Gillman dusted Lily May Humphreys and Alice Hewson, 4 and 3.

Mehaffey and Hewson are the only returning members from the victorious 2016 GB&I team. Mehaffey admittedly put a considerable amount of pressure on herself to perform well in a leadership role.

“I was a little bit uptight,” said Mehaffey, who barely helped partner Sophie Lamb on the front side. At the turn, the Arizona State junior told herself she had nothing to lose. Mehaffey, the only player inside the top 20 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings for the visiting team, finally started playing like it.

“You redeemed yourself,” said Lamb, patting her partner on the back.

The foursome session gets underway at 3:40 p.m. Eastern. Li and Schubert will sit out for the American side, while Annabel Fuller and Shannon McWilliam have the afternoon off for GB&I. Fuller, 15, has yet to see action.

Mehaffey and Lamb will get a second crack at it, this time against a Pac-12 powerhouse duo of Andrea Lee and Mariel Galdiano. U.S. captain Virginia Derby Grimes, a former Auburn player and coach, put her two Alabama stars – Stephenson and Kristen Gillman – together in the anchor match.

Afternoon foursomes

  • 3:40 p.m.: Olivia Mehaffey/Sophie Lamb (GB&I) vs. Mariel Galdiano/Andrea Lee (USA)
  • 3:51 p.m.: Alice Hewson/India Clyburn (GB&I) vs. Jennifer Kupcho/Lilia Vu (USA)
  • 4:02 p.m.: Paula Grant/Lily May Humphreys (GB&I) vs. Lauren Stephenson/Kristen Gillman (USA)

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