Great Britain and Ireland survived a fierce American fightback to claim a dramatic victory in the 39th Curtis Cup at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club south of Dublin.
The home side started the singles with an 8-4 lead over the visitors but they had to fight all the way to secure an 11 ½ - 8 ½ victory after the battling Americans edged the singles by 4 ½ - 3 ½.
The victory marked just the eighth time GB & I has emerged victorious in a contest which was inaugurated all the way back in 1932 but it does mean they have now won twice in-a-row on home soil after their previous victory at Nairn in northern Scotland four years ago.
Olivia Mehaffey celebrates as Team GB&I win their 8th Curtis Cup.
The Americans had been whitewashed 3-0 the previous evening in the second fourball series but any thought the contest would end without a fight were dispelled when Bailey Tardy opened their team’s account with a 4 & 3 victory over Charlotte Thomas.
The visiting American team edged one further point nearer to GB & I’s total when Monica Vaughn beat Rochelle Morris 4 & 3 but Leona Maguire re-established a three point advantage for the home team when she defeated Sierra Brooks 3 & 2. That win took the World No. 2’s personal tally for the match to four points out of five and it was greeted with no little relief as the Americans continued to press for the six points they needed to retain the trophy they won at St Louis Country Club two years ago.
Monica Vaughn managed to secure a 4&3 victory for Team USA in her singles match but it wasn't enough in the end.
At that stage GB & I needed just one and a half points for outright victory and the half materialised when World No. 9 Olivia Mehaffey finished all square in the top match against World No. 1 and reigning US champion Hannah O’Sullivan. 18-year-old Mehaffey had lead all the way and had been one up playing the last but came up short with her approach to the green and then lipped out for a par from four-feet above the hole.
The first four matches to finish resulted in the Americans earning 2 ½ points to GB & I’s 1 ½ and the visitors put another point on the board when Andrea Lee beat Alice Hewson by 2 & 1.
That meant the pressure switched to the final three matches in which Bronte Law faced Mika Liu, Meghan MacLaren played Bethany Wu and Maria Dunne was up against Mariel Galdiano and in the end it was MacLaren who supplied the winning point when she carded a five on the long 17th to beat Bethany Wu 2 & 1.
“That’s a moment I will always remember,” MacLaren said. “I wasn’t sure what was going on at one point but then it became pretty clear how close it was. I was confident Bronte would bring home her point so I just tried to relax and play my own game.”
Team GB & I with the Curtis Cup.
Moments later Law created a major slice of history when she beat Liu by two holes to become the first GB & I player to win all five of her matches at a Curtis Cup. That feat had previously only been achieved once before by American Stacy Lewis at St Andrews back in 2008 when the match was played over three days for the first time. Law had trailed for the whole of the outward half but won the 17th with a birdie to go one up and then doubled that advantage on the last after America’s youngest team member went for her first putt for a birdie and then missed the return from just over four feet.
“It’s great to be the first GB & I to win five matches but that wasn’t the priority for me,” Law said. “The priority was to play as well as I could for the team. I think the reason why we have the trophy right now is that we’ve some amazing team chemistry this week. Everyone has got on so well. Our golf has been amazing but the fact we got on so well made it so easy.
“This is the best team I’ve been on and that means more than what I’ve done on a personal basis. There’s friendships here that are going to last a lifetime and that’s the most important thing.”
The final game ended with American Mariel Galdiano carding a par on the 17th hole to beat Maria Dunne 2 & 1 but by then the celebrations had started and the elated GB & I captain Elaine Farquharson was beginning to come to terms with their victory.
“The Americans played great today but I always thought we were in control,” she said. “We were always above the line. It was tense for a while but I never had any real doubt we win.
“It has been an incredible week,” she added. “I will remember every minute of it. But they’ve been such an easy team to captain. I think the hardest decision I had was what we’d wear and then they took that decision for me. It has been fantastic. I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
A proud US captain Robin Burke congratulated her team on their stirring performance during the last day. “We fought right to the end,” she said. “We had a chance to win right until the last two matches. I really thought we were going to flip it.
My girls didn’t lose their spirit,” she added. “They didn’t lose their fight and I’m proud of all of them. They just got out-played this week.”