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Curtis Cup: Great Britain & Ireland off to a fast start in Wales
Hannah Darling and Annabell Fuller of GB&I celebrate their four-ball win over Rachel Heck and Emilia Migliaccio. (R&A)
Hannah Darling and Annabell Fuller of GB&I celebrate their four-ball win over Rachel Heck and Emilia Migliaccio. (R&A)

Great Britain and Ireland made a strong start on the opening day of the 41st Curtis Cup Match at Conwy Golf Club in Wales taking a 4 ½ - 1 ½ lead over the USA.

In calm and mostly warm conditions, the GB&I team made the most of their home advantage to win out in both the morning foursomes, by 2 ½ to a ½ and then the afternoon fourballs 2 - 1.

“You don't win the Curtis Cup on day one," said Ratcliffe. "We have got to continue that golf and continue that momentum because for sure the American team will come back.”

Showing a real determination to wrest the trophy back from the USA, who were dominant in the previous match at Quaker Ridge in 2018, the young GB&I team, led by Captain Elaine Ratcliffe, raced out of the traps to take an early grip on the match.

The English pairing of Annabell Fuller and Charlotte Heath set the tone for the day with a convincing 4&3 win over Rachel Kuehn and Emilia Migliaccio and their compatriots Emily Toy and Caley McGinty followed up with a 3&1 victory over Gina Kim and Brooke Matthews.

The top match was a closely fought affair. The world number one and two, Rose Zhang and Rachel Heck, took it down the last against the Scottish pairing of Louise Duncan and Hannah Darling with Zhang holing out for a half on the 18th.

GB&I maintained their momentum in the afternoon fourballs as the USA struggled to fully find their stride. Darling, the youngest player on the GB&I team at the age of 18, was again in the lead pairing, this time with Fuller, and they played out a high quality contest with Heck and Migliaccio that featured 13 birdies between the four players and once again went down the last. Darling, the Girls’ Amateur champion, played an excellent approach to the right-hand side of the 18th green and holed a 12 foot birdie putt which was enough for a one hole win when Heck failed to follow her in from six feet.

At about the same time, Ireland’s Lauren Walsh combined with McGinty to see off the challenge of Kim and Jensen Castle by 2&1.

The final match of the day also went down the last. It looked to have swung the way of the USA when Zhang, the U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, birdied the 15th and 16th but Annabel Wilson bounced back to win the 17th with a birdie four. Zhang found the fairway with her drive on the last but her approach found the rough to the left of the green. Although she took three to get down from there her par five was enough to seal the win and claim an important point for the USA.

“We really came in clutch coming into the last few holes," said Zhang. "It was some really clutch birdies (15 and16) and it just worked out well in the end. We had the momentum and the last hole we were able to stay composed and at least try to get a good par in. “Team USA always has high hopes and we always have really good team spirit so coming into tomorrow everyone's going to try to work hard to play even better and we'll make a good come back tomorrow.”


Notable

Annabel Fuller and Caley McGinty of GB&I were the only players to win both of their matches Thursday.

Fuller is the only player with Curtis Cup experience, having competed in the 2018 Match at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Rose Zhang, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, was part of the USA Team's only win of the day, and only halve of the day.

The GB&I team has already surpassed its point total from the 2018 Curtis Cup Match, when the USA Team earned a record-setting 17-3 margin of victory.

Remaining Television Schedule
Thursday (Day 1 Foursomes/Four-Balls)
8:00-10:00 am (Peacock)
Thursday, Day 2 (Foursomes/Four-balls)
11:30 pm-8:00 am (Golf)
Friday, Day 2 (Foursomes/Four-balls)
8:00-10:00 am (Peacock)
Saturday, Day 3 (Singles)
1:45-7:30 am (Golf)

All times Pacific



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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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