MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Mass. (AP) — The girls from the United States did Harriot and Margaret Curtis proud.
Playing at the Essex County Club, the home course of the two women who donated the trophy that began the Curtis Cup in 1932, the U.S. handily defeated Great Britain and Ireland 12.5-7.5 on Sunday in the 36th biennial competition between teams of female amateur golfers.
Alexis Thompson, a 15-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., and 18-year-old Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., both got off to huge early leads in their singles matches. The Americans needed only two of eight points in the singles to retain the cup after sweeping all six fourball and foursome matches Saturday to take a commanding 8.5-3.5 lead.
“It was a wonderful victory, obviously. We are very pleased and proud,” said U.S. captain Noreen Mohler. “I think today’s play was just a continuation of yesterday’s play. We went out with momentum and we just made a couple of more putts than they did.”
Thompson, who finished 4-0-1 for the weekend, beat Sally Watson 6 and 5, and Johnson defeated Rachel Jennings 5 and 4 to clinch it for the U.S., which now leads the series 27-6-3 and has won seven straight matches.
Essex County, the 6,500-yard links-style course designed by Scotsman Donald Ross, reminded many members of the GB&I team of courses back home, and the visitors got off to a strong start Friday, taking a one-point lead.
“Today’s results were superb and the girls were very upbeat this morning knowing we had to practically win the full eight,” said GB&I captain Mary McKenna. “They went out and played their hearts out and to share singles with the US team is absolutely superb. We certainly performed in the positive and we will rise again.”
The Americans responded with a blizzard of birdies on Saturday and some strong play early in the day Sunday.
Danielle McVeigh of Northern Ireland, a 22-year-old who is expected to turn pro soon, was a bright spot all weekend for her team. She beat Jennifer Song 3 and 2 in the leadoff singles match. Lisa and Leona Maguire, 15-year-old twin sisters from Ireland, also played well for the visitors. Lisa Maguire beat Kimberly Kim 1-up and Leona Maguire topped Tiffany Lua 2 and 1.
“I had a great week,” said McVeigh. “I came here to play well and I’m glad I did. I went out to play well against a great opponent. I tried my best but there’s no I in team.”
Jessica Korda, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., was strong all weekend for the U.S., and she had four birdies and an eagle while whipping Pamela Pretswell of Scotland 4 and 3. American Cydney Clanton beat Hannah Barwood 4 and 3. Holly Clyburn’s 2 and 1 win over Stephanie Kono gave the GB&I team a split of Sunday’s eight points.
“I told Alexis and Jessica you are going to be my horses this week,” said Mohler. “You are young and I know you can go 36 holes each day and both have very similar games. The hit the ball similarly distance wise and they feed off each other.”
Sunday’s matches also were widely expected to be the final amateur appearance for several members of the U.S. team. Thompson and Song, 20, of Ann Arbor, Mich., the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, both may play in next week’s Shoprite LPGA Classic in Galloway, N.J.