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U.S. sweeps Friday foursomes at Curtis Cup
-- USGA Photo
-- USGA Photo
NAIRN, Scotland (June 8, 2012) -- The sun might not be visible at The Nairn Golf Club, but it is seemingly shining a spotlight on the USA Team.

Despite troublesome winds and intensely overcast skies, the Americans swept all three of Friday morning’s foursomes (alternate-shot) matches to take a 3-0 lead going into the afternoon’s three four-ball (best-ball) matches.

“The team was so loose going out, it was almost eerily calm feeling,” said Captain Pat Cornett of her players. “They were calm. I was calm. I think they demonstrated an amazing quiet and controlled confidence.”

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Only one match reached the 18th green. Austin Ernst, 19, of Seneca, S.C., and Brooke Pancake, 22, of Chattanooga, Tenn., trailed for much of their match against Kelly Tidy, 20, of England, and Amy Boulden, 18, of Wales. After the teams split the first four holes, GB&I grabbed a 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-4 fifth. The Americans escaped the par-5 seventh with a halve, despite Ernst’s errant drive into a gorse bush, which required the team to take an unplayable lie. The pairing again found trouble at the par-4 eighth and conceded the hole to go 2 down.

However, Ernst and Pancake were far from out of contention. Three GB&I bogeys between the 14th and 17th holes, and clutch putting from Pancake, gave the USA a 1-up lead going to the final hole.

“[Ernst] lagged [the putt] up there and I had to make the putt on 17 [to win the hole],” said Pancake, a recent University of Alabama graduate who on Thursday was named the 2012 Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for the at-large division. “I said a half point was really big from where we came from in the middle of the match, but I was like, 'Let’s get that whole point for the U.S.'”

Both teams found the final green in three, and Ernst nestled her approach putt to within a few feet. When Tidy’s birdie attempt to halve the hole missed and Boulden converted the par, Pancake was able to calmly tap home her par putt to claim the match for the USA.

“To come back how we did, it was huge,” said Ernst, the 2011 NCAA Division I individual champion who just completed her sophomore year at Louisiana State University.

“They played just amazing golf,” said Cornett, “with Brooke making incredible saves over the last four or five holes.”

Amy Anderson, 19, of Oxbow, N.D., and Tiffany Lua, 22, of Rowland Heights, Calif., opened with a birdie at the par-4 first hole and never trailed en route to a 2-and-1 victory over Holly Clyburn, 20, and Bronte Law, 17, both of England.

“They struggled a little bit off the tee and got in some tough spots,” said Anderson, the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion who will be a junior this fall at North Dakota State. “Tiffany and I really worked well together in alternate shot. We didn't get down on ourselves when we hit a bad shot and we really supportive when things were going good.”

Duke University All-American Lindy Duncan, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., teamed with University of Southern California All-American Lisa McCloskey, 20, of Houston, Texas, for the morning’s quickest victory. The duo took a 6- up lead by the turn against Leona Maguire, 17, of Ireland, and Stephanie Meadow, 20, of Northern Ireland, and held on for a 5-and-4 victory.

Maguire and Meadow did not go down without a fight, taking the 11th and 12th holes, including a concession on 12, to cut the deficit to 4 down. However, Duncan and McCloskey, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links runner-up, proved too strong for the Irish teammates, whose bogey at the par-3 14th sealed the win for the Americans.

GB&I Captain Tegwen Matthews was understandably disheartened by the morning’s results.

“It’s disappointing,” she said. “There was some good golf played out there, but the Americans were just that bit sharper than us on and around the greens.”

The Curtis Cup continues Friday afternoon with the three four-ball matches. Saturday will bring three foursomes matches and three four-ball matches, and the Match concludes with eight singles matches on Sunday.

A point is awarded for each victory and a half-point goes to each side for a draw. The USA, winners of the last seven contests in the biennial series, needs 10 points to retain the Cup, while GB&I needs 10.5 points to regain the Cup.

The Curtis Cup Match is conducted by the United States Golf Association and the Ladies Golf Union.

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