America's unbeaten run in the biennial Curtis Cup competition continued yesterday as they overhauled Great Britain & Ireland 10-8.
More than 8,000 fans lined the fairways at Formby to watch the US seal victory for the fourth consecutive time, despite Great Britain & Ireland's dominance in the foursomes play. They have not won the event since 1996 at Killarney. The Americans have now won the competition 24 times against six wins for Great Britain & Ireland and three drawn matches stretching back to 1932.
Once again the Americans overpowered Great Britain & Ireland in singles to take the trophy after the sides entered yesterday's final singles session tied on six points apiece. The visitors only won one point in foursomes play, losing 5-1 to the home team. However, their superiority in singles saw them home and dry once again. The US took the final session 4-2. In the 33 matches played since 1932, America hold a 78.5 point advantage in singles matches. They also have the upper hand in foursomes play, but the margin is only 19 points in that form of golf.
Foursomes is not a format most Americans are familiar with. They do not even use the term, preferring "alternate shot" instead. US teams have shown a particular dislike for foursomes golf, while successive Great Britain & Ireland teams have used the format to keep the matches respectable. Great Britain & Ireland hold an eight point advantage in foursomes over the last 20 years but are 12 points in arrears in singles.
Michelle Wie demonstrated this point. The 14-year-old lost both her foursomes matches, but won her singles contests with ease. On Saturday she overcame the Welshwoman Anna Highgate 5 & 4. Yesterday she had an even easier ride over Folkestone's Nicola Timmins. Timmins was no match for Wie. The long-hitting girl from Honolulu used her power to steam-roller the England international. Wie won the first hole with a par, and won three consecutive holes from the fifth for a four-hole advantage. Six up playing the 13th, the match and the point was conceded when Wie chipped to two feet. She won 6 & 5.
With Wie taking the US points total to seven, and Paula Creamer taking that total to eight with a 3 & 2 victory over the stalwart Emma Duggleby, it was left to Elizabeth Janangelo to ensure the US retained the cup. Outright victory was assured when Annie Thurman defeated Maidstone's Danielle Masters by one hole in the final match on the course.
The crowds who turned out yesterday saw Wie at her best in the afternoon. She has a big future ahead of her, but it was obvious from the morning session that she has much to learn when it comes to the ancient art of foursomes. For the second day in a row she was given a lesson on the intricacies of foursomes by the diminutive twosome of Scotland's Anne Laing and Ireland's Claire Coughlan.
The home pair were at a huge disadvantage off the tee compared to the powerful American duo of Wie and Elizabeth Janangelo, yet they carved out a 3 & 2 win. Laing and Coughlan simply outclassed the Americans on the greens.
Once again it was left to the diminutive Coughlan to deliver the killer blow. On Saturday she holed a 15-foot birdie putt at the last for a win over Wie and Brittany Lang. Three up playing the 16th yesterday, the home side only needed a par to take the point. Coughlan made sure of that when she holed a slick downhill six footer for a 3 & 2 win.
Wie ultimately lived up to the hype around the match, but she and her teammates left Formby with a distinct dislike for foursomes golf. It is a safe bet she will not be playing that form of golf when she returns to the lush fairways of her home club in Honolulu.
CURTIS CUP (Formby Golf Club, Lancs): First Day (GB & Irl first): Foursomes: S McKevitt & E Duggleby bt P Creamer & J Park 3 & 2; N Timmins & D Masters bt S Huarte & A Thurman 1 hole; A Laing & C Coughlan bt B Lang & M Wie 1 hole. Singles: Duggleby bt E Janangelo 3 & 2; Masters lost to E Blasberg 1 hole; F More lost to Creamer 5 & 3; A Highgate lost to Wie 5 & 4; McKevitt lost to Park 4 & 3, A Laing lost to Thurman 4 & 3. Second Day: Foursomes: Duggleby & McKevitt bt Blasberg & Huarte 2 & 1; Laing & Coughlan bt Janangelo & Wie 3 & 2: Timmins & Masters lost to Lang & Thurman 5 & 4. Singles: Duggleby lost to Creamer 3 & 2; Laing bt Park, 3 & 1; McKevitt lost to Janangelo 1 hole; Timmings lost to Wie 6 & 5; Coughlan bt Lang 2 holes; Masters lost to Thurman 1 hole. Match result: US 10 GB & Irl 8.