Rose blooms early while Americans feel the chill

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The Independent Online
In identifying the players here, a cursory glance would be unhelpful. The cast of Great Britain and Ireland looked more American than the Americans. Our lot were kitted out in crisp shorts, short-sleeved shirts and looked as if they were holidaying in Florida. By contrast the United States wore slacks and long-sleeved sweaters. Clearly Michael Fish was not part of their team.

Great Britain and Ireland established a 6-3 lead at the halfway stage of the 29th Curtis Cup and it is they, in fact, who are wearing the trousers. When it came to the singles, traditionally their strength, the Americans were no match, losing 41/2-11/2. It means that GB and Ireland need only three and a half points out of nine today to retain the Cup.

Alison Rose, a first reserve for the Curtis Cup in America two years ago, won her first two matches yesterday. "It was absolutely brilliant," Ita Butler, the non-playing captain, said. "I'm particularly proud of the new players."

Honours were shared in the morning's foursomes when Cristie Kerr, in the final match, sank a heart-stopping, downhill 12-foot putt to deny Janice Moodie and Mhairi McKay. The Scots, never behind, won the 16th to go one up but lost the 17th. The Americans looked as if they would lose the match at the last where the veteran Carol Semple Thompson left a chip short, while McKay pitched up to within two feet of the flag. Kerr's putt to halve the match in four hit the back of the cup, hopped out, hung momentarily on the edge and then fell in.

Julie Hall and Lisa Educate were beaten 2 and 1 in the opening match after going to the turn two up. They had a bogey six at the 11th, a bogey five at the 13th, a bogey five at the 14th, a bogey six at the 16th and a double-bogey six at the 17th. GB and Ireland's victorious pair in the foursomes were Rose and the Welsh champion, Lisa Dermott. The rose and dragon defeated Maria Jemsek and Brenda Corrie-Keuhn 3 and 1 and it was surprising that Dermott was rested from the singles.

No matter. It was not half as surprising as the changes made by the United States captain, Martha Lang, who admitted afterwards that she may have got her batting-order wrong. Although Hall, making her last representative appearance, was beaten in the first singles, it was the Americans' only outright success.

Rose, a 28-year-old bank official from Stirling, demolished Brenda Corrie- Kuehn 5 and 4. "I won't be turning professional," Rose said. "I got here on merit and this is what I enjoy. I can't think pro golf is as good as this." Rose had a chat with her coach, John Chillas, before travelling to Co Kerry. "He told me that I was as good as anybody and to believe in myself."

A crowd of around 7,000 enthusiastically supported the GB and Ireland victories in the afternoon and further points came from Karen Stupples, McKay and Moodie. In the other match, Elaine Ratcliffe halved with Jemsek. The 22-year-old Stupples, a former Kent girls' champion, defeated Kellee Booth 3 and 2. "The event was better than my expectation," Stupples said. "All those people. I missed only one fairway and it must have been the adrenalin."

To complete a miserable afternoon for the Americans, McKay and Moodie, both on golf scholarships in the United States, bit the hand that feeds them. McKay defeated Kerr and Moodie, who beat Semple Thompson in the final match to earn a tie in the competition in Chattanooga two years ago, got the better of her 47-year-old opponent 3 and 1.

While Semple Thompson has been rested from today's foursomes, GB and Ireland are going for a quick kill, with Moodie and McKay, followed by Rose and Dermott. "I told them not to try and change their game but to enjoy the occasion," Butler said. So far they are having a whale of a time at the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.

CURTIS CUP (Killarney) Great Britain and Ireland v United States (GB and Irl names first): First day: Foursomes: Great Britain and Ireland 11/2 United States 11/2. J Hall and L Educate lost to E Port and K Kuehne 2 and 1; A Rose and L Dermott bt M Jemsek and B Corrie-Kuehn 3 and 1; J Moodie and M McKay halved with C Kerr and C Semple Thompson. Singles: Great Britain and Ireland 41/2 United States 11/2. Hall lost to S Lebrun Ingram 4 and 2; K Stupples bt K Booth 3 and 2; Rose bt Corrie-Kuehn 5 and 4; E Ratcliffe halved with Jemsek; McKay bt Kerr 1 hole; Moodie bt Semple Thompson 3 and 1. Match position: Great Britain and Ireland 6 United States 3.