One’s reaction to Great Britain & Ireland’s 11½ -8½ victory over the United States at the 39th Curtis Cup likely depends on which side of the Atlantic you’re watching it from.
Seeing Bronte Law become the first GB&I player to go 5-0 in the biennial matches as the Englishwoman and her teammates took control during Saturday’s play at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Dublin (winning five of the six points available) was no doubt inspiring for the home side, which claimed the Cup for the second time since 2012.
And while American fans can be proud of the comeback attempt of captain Robin Burke’s young squad (average age: 18), overcoming an 8-4 deficit entering Sunday’s eight singles matches—the first time the U.S. has trailed entering the last singles session since 1996—was disappointingly too big a challenge.
Yet with some distance from the match, the final outcome should leave both sides motivated.
After the U.S. had won the Cup seven straight times from 1998 to 2010, it appeared the event’s competitive balance might have been fundamentally flawed. Some wondered if the rest of Europe needed to be added to the GB&I side, a la the Ryder Cup in 1979, to keep the Cup from losing its relevance.
A less drastic tweak, however, seems to have smoothed things out: adding a third day of competition. With this, the Cup’s format changed to reduce the number of overall singles matches (from 12 to 8) and add foursomes to the schedule.
Now that 12 points are decided in better-ball or alternate shot (up from six), a reliance on partners has helped GB&I harness the team dynamic and thrive. (GB&I shot 20 under collectively during Saturday’s four-ball play alone).
“The team was just incredible,” said Law, a rising senior at UCLA who was just named the winner of the 2016 Annika Award for being the nation’s top female collegiate golfer. “For me, coming into this, a lot of people had written us off. We kept hearing things that we have a 32-year-old [Maria Dunne] on the team and she’s just been unbelievable, as have all the rookies. For me to end it this way—it’s probably going to be my last Curtis Cup—is just a dream. I am so proud to just represent my country.”
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