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GB&I has Commanding Lead after Second Day of Curtis Cup Matches
Bronte Law (right) and Olivia Mehaffey win two matches on Saturday at Curtis Cup <br>(USGA Photo)</br>
Bronte Law (right) and Olivia Mehaffey win two matches on Saturday at Curtis Cup
(USGA Photo)
DUBLIN, Ireland (June 11, 2016) -- r the first time in two decades, the USA will face a deficit going into the final day of the Curtis Cup Match. Coincidentally, the biennial competition was conducted in the Republic of Ireland the last time that occurred.

After winning five of the available six points on Saturday, including a sweep of the afternoon’s four-ball matches, Great Britain and Ireland owns a commanding 8-4 lead entering Sunday’s eight singles matches at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, outside of Dublin. GB&I needs 2½ points to reclaim the Cup, while the USA needs six to retain it.

In 1996, the USA trailed 6-3 after the first day – the competition switched to three days in 2008 – at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club and eventually lost, 11½-6½. Since that Match, the only other USA defeat was four years ago at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, when GB&I rallied to win five of the eight singles matches for a 10½-9½ triumph.

Bronte Law, 21, of England, registered two points on Saturday with partner Olivia Mehaffey, 18, of Northern Ireland, to remain unblemished at 4-0. A win on Sunday would make Law, No. 4 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, the second player in Match history to post a 5-0 record. The USA’s Stacy Lewis accomplished the feat on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2008, the year the Curtis Cup switched from two to three days.

“Obviously, we have a very, very strong team who are very capable of going out and winning all eight matches, let alone seven,” said Law, a UCLA junior who was the recipient of the 2016 Annika Award as the top collegiate golfer. “We fought the whole day. Every single hole, we grounded out. We holed the putts that we needed to. I’m so proud of my team right now. They did exactly what captain [Elaine Farquharson-Black] wanted us to do.”

As for the possibility of tying Lewis’ record, Law defused such talk.

“It’s not about doing something that’s been done before,” said Law, who owned a 2-4-2 overall mark in her two previous Curtis Cup appearances, including the 2012 win at Nairn. “[My focus] is to win my match for my team.”

Play was suspended for 1 hour, 45 minutes during the four-ball session due to heavy rain, but it didn’t affect GB&I.

When golf resumed at 4:15 p.m. local time, GB&I continued to build on its momentum from the morning foursomes, when it claimed two of three points for the second consecutive day.

Taking advantage of the soft conditions, the three GB&I four-ball sides were a combined 20 under par over 46 holes. The Americans, by contrast, were 9 under.

“Their players obviously had a good day, made a lot of putts,” said USA captain Robin Burke. “They played extremely well. A few of my players also played well. They just made … a lot more putts than we did. That’s how golf is sometimes. I don’t feel like they took the wind out of our sails. I think they lit a fire within us and we’ll be ready to go out and play hard tomorrow.”

World No. 2 Leona Maguire, 21, of the Republic of Ireland, and Charlotte Thomas, 23, of England, shot the equivalent of 8 under par in a 5-and-4 victory over world No. 1 Hannah O’Sullivan, 18, of Chandler, Ariz., and Mika Liu, 17, of Beverly Hills, Calif. With the match all square after four holes, the duo finished the final five holes of the outward nine in 6 under, including an eagle-3 by Maguire on the par-5 seventh, to go 3 up. Thomas, who helped the University of Washington win its first NCAA title on May 25, completed the run with a 25-foot birdie on No. 9.

“Today is a huge day for us,” said Maguire, a Duke University rising junior who won the Annika Award in 2015. “The U.S. is always strong in four-balls and for us to come out and go 3-0 is huge.”

Maguire now has been on both sides of a Saturday rout. Six years ago at Essex County Club in Massachusetts, GB&I held a one-point lead after the first day, only to lose all six matches the next day in a 12½-7½ defeat. And she was on the 2012 side that rallied on Sunday to win.

“I know how [the USA] is feeling right now,” said Maguire. “[But] we can’t take anything for granted. We have to come out with our guns blazing and try to get those points on the board as early as possible.”

Meghan MacLaren, 22, of England, and Maria Dunne, 32, of the Republic of Ireland, also garnered two critical points. In the morning foursomes, MacLaren holed a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole to seal a 1-up win over Sierra Brooks, 17, of Sorrento, Fla., and Andrea Lee, 17, of Hermosa Beach, Calif. That gave GB&I a 5-4 lead going into the afternoon. The duo continued their excellent play by shooting 8 under par over 16 holes in defeating Bailey Tardy, 19, of Peachtree Corners, Ga., and Mariel Galdiano, 17, of Pearl City, Hawaii.

That match included a slow-play penalty on Tardy on the par-5 12th for a second bad time. Tardy, who had just stuffed her third shot to 5 feet, was disqualified from finishing the hole and GB&I won with a Dunne birdie to go 2 up. Dunne didn’t seem bothered by being put on the clock on the ensuing hole as she made birdie to put her side 3 up. The remaining two holes were halved.

Law and Mehaffey, who shot 4 under par, completed the sweep with a 3-and-2 victory over Monica Vaughn, 21, of Reedsport, Ore., and Bethany Wu, 19, of Diamond Bar, Calif.

“Bethany and I played 16 holes and only halved three of them,” said Vaughn. “That says a lot about the level of play out here. Both Olivia and Bronte chipped in for birdie. That gives them great momentum and puts the pressure on us. I don’t think that we failed to rise to the occasion. I just think that for whatever reason, they just really, really had it going today.”

Earlier on Saturday, Law and Mehaffey handed Tardy and Vaughn their first loss of the Match with a 3-and-2 foursomes win.

The lone USA victory came from O’Sullivan and Wu in foursomes. After winning the 12th hole with a birdie to go 1 up, they managed to halve the remaining six holes for a 1-up win.

Now Burke has to find a way to rejuvenate her players for Sunday. Whichever motivational tool she uses, her USA side has a tall task, needing to win six of the eight matches.

“We’re definitely not going to lie down,” said Burke.

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ABOUT THE Curtis Cup

Officially named "The Women's International Cup," the first Curtis Cup wasn't officially held until 1932. The biennial competition features the best female players from the United States of America pitted against a similar squad from Great Britain and Ireland. While it was hoped that many nations would eventually join the Match, the Curtis Cup has remained a two-sided competition.

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