Wie helps put US out in front

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The Independent Online

Michelle Wie played her part but it was a superb collective performance that enabled the Americans to take an unlikely overnight lead in the 33rd Curtis Cup. Having lost all three of the morning foursomes, the United States won the singles 5-1 to move in front by a single point.

Michelle Wie played her part but it was a superb collective performance that enabled the Americans to take an unlikely overnight lead in the 33rd Curtis Cup. Having lost all three of the morning foursomes, the United States won the singles 5-1 to move in front by a single point.

Whether it was the sunshine, being able to wear shorts or simply playing as a single rather than in combination, the visitors looked far more comfortable in the afternoon.

Wie, the 14-year-old Hawaiian prodigy, finished the day with one win out of two, but her victory over Anna Highgate by 5 and 4 faded into the mix as Great Britain and Ireland, battling not to lose a fourth successive match, were overwhelmed in the singles.

Yorkshire's Emma Duggleby won the home side's only point while Danielle Masters at least took her match to the last. Dugglebyrecovered from two-down after seven to win 3 and 2 against Liz Janangelo. "The conditions were tricky with the wind, and the course was playing faster and faster in the sunshine," Duggleby said. "When I looked at the scoreboard I knew how important my point was."

Masters, a 21-year-old from Kent, almost joined Duggleby in winning two points on the day, which looked unlikely when she was three-down with four to play against Erica Blasberg. The Californian had four birdies in five holes before losing the next three.

She missed the green at all three holes and came to the last all-square, knowing that a win for either player would put their team ahead. After what she had gone through, it was impressive that Blasberg hit her approach to eight feet and holed the putt for birdie.

Only once before, in 1986, had GB & I won a series of foursomes 3-0 and that led to their first victory on American soil. Today, history of another sort beckons as victory would mean all four of the major team trophies residing on this side of the Atlantic for the first time.

It was cool as well as windy early in the day and the foursomes produced scrappy golf, if exciting conclusions as the home side briefly raised the hopes of a large gallery.

Wie, certainly the centre of attention, had to wait for her opponents to play four times, twice from sand, before hitting her first shot for her country. Wie showed her obvious power and talent, although in the conditions there was a fine line between an easy gracefulness and appearing gangly. Her main problem was missing a worrying number of short putts.

At the last, she comfortably outdrove the home side but left her partner in the right rough with a pitch over a greenside bunker and Brittany Lang duly found the sand.

Wie played a delicate recovery that deserved a half but, following Anne Laing's approach to 15 feet pin-high, her Irish partner Claire Coughlin rolled in the putt for the win, accompanied by a huge roar. Duggleby and Shelley McKevitt won 3 and 2 in the top match, while the Kent pair of Masters and Nicola Timmins also won at the last.

By now most of the crowd of around 7,500 had arrived, something these players, Wie apart, have never experienced. But the home players seemed to be inspired and there were plenty of smiles and waves of acknowledgement.

"The way we look at Michelle is, she has two arms, two legs and fourteen clubs, like everyone else," said the home captain, Ada O'Sullivan. "We played fantastic against her in the morning but she was superb in the singles. [But] we are only one point behind and there is no reason we can't come back tomorrow."

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