Great Britain & Ireland and the United States shared the spoils at the end of an engrossing first day of the 39th Curtis Cup at Dun Loaghaire Golf Club just south of Dublin.
The GB & I side won the morning foursomes 2-1 but that slender lead evaporated after lunch when the visiting team claimed the afternoon foursomes by the same scoreline. The two teams go into the weekend tied at 3-3 with 14 points still to play for over the next two days. Leona Maguire and Bronte Law are GB & I’s two top-ranked players and they got the afternoon fourballs off to a great start when they beat Bethany Wu and Sierra Brooks by 4 & 3 in the top match on the course. Maguire got the ball rolling when she birdied the par-4 first and they were a combined five under par when they reached the turn at four up and a total of six under when the match ended on the 15th green. The other two matches proved to be much tighter affairs.
Olivia Mehaffey and Charlotte Thomas halved every hole on the front nine in their match against Hannah O’Sullivan and Mariel Galdiano before Mehaffey ended that run with a winning birdie on the 10th. World No. 1 O’Sullivan got the match back to all square with a birdie on the 12th and a further birdie on the 13th saw the visitors move into a one hole lead. It was to be an advantage they were not to relinquish with O’Sullivan providing the decisive blow when she holed a marvellous curling 25-foot putt across the 18th green for a winning birdie.
The third fourball featured English duo Meghan McLaren and Alice Hewson against Bailey Tardy and Monica Vaughn and it went all the way to the 17thbefore the Americans won 2 & 1. The visiting pair took the lead when Tardy birdied the second hole. GB & I got it back to all square when Hewson birdied the sixth but American regained the lead with a birdie on the 10thand then doubled that advantage with a birdie from Vaughn on the next hole. Both side then went on to swap two holes before Tardy sealed the point with a par on the long 17th.
“It has been a great first day between two well-balanced teams,” said GB & I captain Elaine Farquharson-Black. “We knew all along it would be a close match and that’s how it proved today.
“There’s been some fantastic golf played by both sides.
“We made a great start this morning. We were a little bit disappointed not to get a halve out of the last game but 2-1 was still good. This afternoon we started strongly again which was the idea but there was birdies galore and the Americans just edged the last two games.
“The mood in the team room is really good,” she added. “We’ve got a really bubbly group. There’s a lot of banter and a lot of laughs. There will a little bit of disappointment that we’re not in the lead but we’ll regroup and start again.”
US captain Robin Burke was delighted the match was all square at the end of the first day. “We are very fortunate that it’s 3-3 tonight,” she said. “The GB & I came out strong both times and our girls had to fight for all their points. The win in the last game in the morning was a big boost to us but GB & I came straight back at us so we had to dig deep and do it all again.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for the GB & I team and I think they feel the same about us. There’s not going to be any easy points for either side. We’ll have to battle and win them all.”
The 39th Curtis Cup continues tomorrow (Saturday) with three foursomes matches in the morning followed by three fourballs in the afternoon.
The pairings for the second foursomes were announced straight after the completion of the first fourballs and the GB&1 captain elected to go for the same three pairings as the first series, albeit in a different order.
In the first game on the course Leona Maguire and Charlotte Thomas will be looking for a second foursomes victory in-a-row when they face Hannah O’Sullivan and Bethany Wu. Meghan MacLaren and Maria Dunne play Sierra Brooks and Andrea Lee in the second match while Olivia Mehaffey and Bronte Law will be looking to clock up second foursomes win in the bottom match against Bailey Tardy and Monica Vaughn.
The match will conclude on Sunday with eight singles starting at 10.00 am. The visiting American team is bidding to retain the trophy it won at St Louis Country Club two years ago while GB & I is looking to replicate its victory at Nairn the last time the contest was staged on this side of the Atlantic back in 2012.