Great Britain and Ireland captured five singles matches on Sunday to win a dramatic 2012 Curtis Cup Match at Nairn Golf Club, Scotland, to secure their first title since 1996 and seventh in Match history, meaning the Curtis joins The Ryder, Walker and Solheim Cups on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean.
"I'm exceptionally proud of the team. They're the ones who pulled it through,” said GB&I Captain Tegwen Matthews, the first victorious GB&I captain since Ita Butler in 1996.
"It was certainly not the result I was looking for," said USA Captain Pat Cornett. "So I am a little disappointed, but then the result is good for the game and good for the Curtis Cup."
The winning point came courtesy of Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow, 20, who defeated Amy Anderson by a 4&2 margin.
Meadow, a member of the University of Alabama’s golf team, twice built a 2-up lead over Anderson, the 2009 US Girls’ Junior champion, but Anderson cut the deficit with a clutch two foot birdie at the par four 12th.
“At that point, I thought things were going to turn our way,” said Anderson. “I hit a great drive at 13, but I got a funky lie. Somehow I hit the five wood fat, and it just sprayed off to the right in about the worst spot you could be.”
Anderson ended up in a pot bunker just short of the green, and conceded the hole, falling to two down. Meadow’s birdie at the short 15th put the victory within her grasp, and Anderson’s wayward tee shot at the 16th ultimately gave the trophy to GB&I.
“I knew all along that it would come down to my match,” said Meadow, who has five career victories for the Crimson Tide. “I was watching the boards. I knew how the first four matches had gone so I knew what I had to do.”
A disappointed Anderson, who will again represent the USA in two weeks at the World University Games in the Czech Republic, said: “I think I'll be replaying every hole every night for quite some time.”
GB&I captured the opening three singles matches, including victories from behind by Kelly Tidy, 20, of England, and Amy Boulden, 18, of Wales.
The morning had started strong for the Americans, with Austin Ernst and Emily Tubert, 20, of Burbank, building two up leads by the fifth hole over Tidy and Boulden, respectively.
“I wanted to set the pace and at the beginning of the match I was pretty much doing that,” said Ernst, who extended her lead over Tidy to three up through six. “I played flawless golf pretty much for the first six holes.”
But the tide quickly turned in favour of GB&I. Tidy knocked in a 25-foot birdie at the par five seventh to tighten the gap, and both players squared their matches with consecutive birdies at the ninth and tenth. Ernst and Tubert were never able to gain any advantage and fell by 2&1 and 3&1 margins, respectively.
“That [birdie] just got me going,” said Tidy, who finished with a 2-2 record. “It got me fired up and it let me know I could beat her. It's just that one little putt that can get a roll going.”
“It looked like there was a lot of red and all square [on the leader board],” said Tubert, the 2010 US Women’s Amateur Public Links champion. “And then all of a sudden I looked up and it was a different story.”
Lisa McCloskey, 20, of Houston, cruised to a 4&3 win over Pamela Pretswell, 23, of Scotland, and temporarily stopped the GB&I roll. But Holly Clyburn, 20, of England, tallied GB&I’s third point with a 3&2 victory over Erica Popson.
McCloskey’s victory came as redemption following losses on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
“I guess I was a little bit riled up and wanted to show them that I could get one point on the board,” said McCloskey, the 2010 US Women’s Amateur Public Links runner-up.
The USA’s other two victories came from 2010 veteran Tiffany Lua, who edged Bronte Law, two up, and Brooke Pancake, whose final amateur competition ended with a resounding 6&5 triumph over Ireland’s Leona Maguire.
England’s Charley Hull, fifth in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, won her only point of the Match, taking a 5&3 victory over Lindy Duncan.
With the GB&I victory, all four major team golf trophies – the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup – reside with the Europeans.