Golf: US success based on superior putting

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The Independent Online
THE CAPTAIN of the Great Britain and Ireland team, Ita Butler, attributed her team's defeat to the United States in the Curtis Cup on Sunday to superior skills around the green. The US won the cup for the first time in eight years despite Britain and Ireland winning the final singles session by a point at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

The last time the US took the trophy was at Somerset Hills, and in the intervening years Great Britain and Ireland have won two matches and halved the other. The American captain, Barbara McIntire, said: "This is a great thrill. All of them did so well and I am excited and proud."

Butler, who led her side to the 1996 success at Killarney, said yesterday: "They holed so many putts. That was really the secret."

Great Britain actually lost the trophy when the 23-year-old Welsh player Becky Morgan was defeated 2 and 1 by Brenda Corrie-Kuehn. She had an opportunity to take the match to the last hole but missed a 10-foot putt. That gave the US the nine and a half points they required to regain the trophy. Earlier on Sunday the British champion, Kim Rostron, had also lost 2 and 1 to Kellee Booth.

Booth and Kuehn won all their four matches, joining an elite group of seven players who have enjoyed that record in the competition. They won both their foursomes playing together and took two singles points each. Booth's mother, Jane, also got four out of four in 1974 for the Americans.

But there was a British success story - 19-year-old Rebecca Hudson, the youngest member of the team who was not played in the opening foursomes on Saturday, won her three games, finishing with a 2 and 1 success over Robin Burke.

Another British success was Karen Stupples, who ended her amateur career with a victory, while Elaine Ratcliffe, who is turning professional, halved her final game to give her two and half points during the two days.

Fiona Brown, the Spanish Open amateur champion from Cheshire, won her second match, beating Jo Jo Robertson on the home green having always been in front once she had taken the lead at the opening hole.

Brandie Burton won her second du Maurier Classic with the lowest score in the history of LPGA major championships, holding on for a one-stroke victory over Sweden's Annika Sorenstam in Windsor, Canada, on Sunday.

Burton ended a five-year victory drought with a 72-hole total of 18 under par 270, one stroke better than the score Betsy King recorded at the 1992 LPGA Championship.

Burton's fifth career victory was anything but a certainty. Her three- stroke lead was down to one by the 18th hole, and the 1993 winner left her approach shot short of the green. But she chipped to within six feet and rolled in the par putt to claim the pounds 120,000 first prize.

Sorenstam, twice a US Women's Open champion, landed her approach at the 18th to the left of the green and her chip to force a play-off rolled just past the hole.

Burton managed to win despite a final-round 72. Sorenstam shot a two- under 70 to come in at 271, 17 under par.