USA retain Curtis Cup in resounding fashion
USA retain Curtis Cup in resounding fashion
With the USA Curtis Cup team holding a five-point lead heading into Sunday’s singles session, the only drama seemingly remaining for the final day of the 42nd match at the historic Merion Golf Club was when it would stop raining for the matches. could start, which American would get the deciding point, and whether American rookie Amari Avery would go a perfect 5-0-0. The skies finally cleared at 11:15 a.m. – nearly four hours after the scheduled start – and for the second straight year, Rachel Kuehn delivered the decisive point, this time in a 15½-4½ victory. It was the third straight triumph for the Americans and the third straight game in which they topped all eight singles matches.
The only disappointment from the US perspective came when Emily Price of England blocked Avery from joining Stacy Lewis (2008) and Kristen Gillman (2018) of the US, and Bronte Law (2016) of GB&I a perfect 5-0-0 mark in a single Curtis Cup game. The biennial competition changed format from a two-day event to a three-day affair 14 years ago at St. Andrews in Scotland when Lewis became the first to do so.
Nevertheless, the deep and talented American team have won seven of eight singles matches, improving their advantage to 42-22 in singles since 2008. The United States now hold an overall record of 31-8-3 in the match, which dates back to 1932.
“It speaks to the depth of our team,” said Kuehn, of Asheville, North Carolina, a rising senior at Wake Forest. “We have eight really talented players.”
GB&I entered the three-day competition brimming with confidence. Six of the players returned from the five-point loss 9½ months ago at Conwy Golf Club in Wales, and seven had American college experience. But when the team failed to hold the lead in two of three foursome games on Saturday afternoon, an eventual 7-5 deficit turned to 8½-3½ and all hopes of a comeback dashed. are faded.
Last August, only Kuehn’s parents, Brenda and her father, Eric, made the trip to Wales due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year, brothers Corrie and Taylor were present along with other relatives and friends.
“That’s really cool,” Kuehn added. “To be able to share these memories with them, I’m so grateful to have a supportive family.”
Rachel Heck fenced off Wake Forest roommate of Kuehn, Lauren Walsh of the Republic of Ireland, 2 and 1, and moments later Wake Forest graduate student Emilia Migliaccio beat University of Florida and three once GB&I Curtis Cup competitor Annabell Fuller, 6 and 5.
Jensen Castle, the defending United States amateur champion and a star out of the University of Kentucky, edged first-team University of South Carolina All-America Hannah Darling of Scotland 2-1. Darling entered the week as one of the mainstays of GB&I but went a disappointing 1-4.
Louisiana State University star Latanna Stone, one of three first-timers for the United States, scored the most dramatic victory when she hit a mid-iron approach to the 409-yard 18th hole 2 feet out for a game-winning birdie and a 1-up decision over Florida State star Charlotte Heath.
Incoming Stanford rookie Megha Ganne, of Holmdel, NJ, who traveled to Wales last August as an alternate after being the weak amateur at the 2021 US Women’s Open at the Olympic Club, n never trailed beating Florida State’s Amelia Williamson of England 2-1.
GB&I avoided its second 0-8 singles mark when Kent State graduate Emily Price played the equivalent of a golf course at 1 under par – with the usual concessions in match play – beating Avery, a student sophomore year at the University of Southern California. Price had faced Avery twice in foursomes this week and eventually defeated the talented 18-year-old from Riverside, Calif., 4 and 3. She closed Avery with a 5-foot birdie on the 15th hole.
“Amari is one of the best players in the world, let alone the United States,” said Price, who heads to the LPGA Tour Qualifying School in August. “I came out today and wanted to stick to my processes, and I did and played really, really well.”
Needing just 1½ points to retain the Cup, USA captain Sarah Ingram took no chances, knocking out world No. 1 and 2022 NCAA individual champion Rose Zhang, Kuehn and world No. 4 and 2021 NCAA champion Rachel Heck in the first three matches. She thought these three would set the tone for the day, and the strategy paid off.
Zhang, the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion and 2021 U.S. Women’s Junior Champion from Irvine, Calif., earned a 7 and 5 triumph over 2021 British Women’s Amateur Champion Louise Duncan of Scotland. This moved the United States within half a point of retaining the Cup.
Kuehn and Heck maneuvered all afternoon to decide who would get the deciding point. Kuehn prevailed by 15 minutes when she knocked out Caley McGinty, 2 and 1.
Shortly after, she was hugging her mother, Brenda, a two-time Curtis Cup performer who also secured the deciding point in the 1998 game at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis. Rachel had the rare chance to rehearse.
” I do not think so [clinching] crossed my mind,” Kuehn said. “The only goal was to go out and win my match.”
by David Shefter, USGA
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