Americans make it 6 in a row at Curtis Cup

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — The Americans won the Curtis Cup for the sixth straight time Sunday with the perfect ending – the clinching point was won by Stacy Lewis and the final point came from Alison Walshe.

Both were simply perfect at the home of golf.

Lewis, the former NCAA champion from Arkansas, became the first player in the 76-year history of the matches to go 5-0. Her final victory came against Elizabeth Bennett, 3 and 2, and turned out to be the point the Americans needed to beat Great Britain & Ireland.

Walshe also was undefeated in the three matches she played, winning the last point on the 18th hole for a 13-7 victory.

“It’s quite something to actually hold that cup,” U.S. captain Carole Semple Thompson said after the first Curtis Cup to be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

About the only flaw to the day was hardly anyone was around to watch Lewis clinch the cup.

The Americans had built a 7 1/2-4 1/2 lead after two days of team matches, and they needed only three points from eight singles matches to win. Most of the team was around the 17th green, where Amanda Blumenherst of Duke was on the verge of winning her match. Lewis ended her match first, however, on the 16th green.

“I knew we had won two matches already, but I wasn’t sure if Amanda was done or if I was done,” Lewis said. “It was an awesome feeling just to win my match there. And I turned around to celebrate and there was nobody there. But I celebrated with my parents, and then a couple of minutes later, they drove up in the cart.

“It was kind of surreal, and being here at the Old Course, I don’t really know how to describe it.”

The United States now leads the series, 26-6-3.

Tiffany Joh of UCLA, a runner-up last week in the NCAA Championship, hammered 15-year-old Carly Booth, 6 and 5, for the first point Sunday. Kimberly Kim of Hawaii won the opening match over Breanne Loucks on the 17th hole.

Florentyna Parker and Krystle Caithness were the only players to win matches Sunday for GB&I, while Michele Thomson rallied to earn a halve against Jennie Lee.

The cup had long been decided when Walshe held on for a 1-up victory over Sally Watson on the final hole.

“I didn’t want to keep it going, but it was great to finish on the 18th with everybody waiting there,” Walshe said. “And to finish with a win was just icing on the cake.”

The Americans have not lost since 1996 in Ireland, and Thompson was asked whether it was time for GB&I to include continental Europe, as the Ryder Cup did in 1979.

“I can understand Great Britain and Ireland would be a little frustrated at this point since we’ve won six in a row, but I think that the level of their play is fantastic, and the matches are always well-fought, and there’s plenty of talent on both sides to make it a good match,” Thompson said. “So I would vote for keeping it against GB&I.”

GB&I captain Mary McKenna noted that the Americans did a better job closing out the team matches, and that their three-point lead going into the final day could have much smaller.

“There was very, very little difference,” McKenna said. “It could have gone either way, certainly for the first two days, which would have given us a better springboard for today. So it was a tough assignment. And I think that we do appreciate that the American girls are good. They’re very, very good.”

Lewis was a little better than that. She was perfect.

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