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  • Alistair Tait

GB&I Can't Win Curtis Cup

The Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team has no chance of winning this week’s match at Conwy Golf Club, which starts today. It’s a case of déjà vu all over again.

Just like the 2012 match.

As was the case nine years ago at Nairn, GB&I might have home course advantage on a traditional links, but the United States has too much strength in depth. On paper, the two teams are mismatched. A close inspection of the World Amateur Golf Ranking tells you the home team might as well pack up and go home.

The U.S. has the world number one and two players in Rose Zhang and Rachel Heck. World number nine Allisen Corpuz makes it three from the world top 10. GB&I has no top 10 players.

Throw in 15th and 17th ranked Emilia Migliaccio and Gina Kim and five of the eight-woman visiting team are in the top 20. Ireland’s Lauren Walsh is the only GB&I top 20 player at 14th.

Rachel Kuehn is 23rd in the world pecking order to give the USA six players inside the world top 23. Walsh is GB&I's only player inside the world top 23.

Then there’s Emilia Migliaccio at 35th to make it seven of eight American players in the top 35. At least GB&I is now coming close to the other side. It has four world top 35 players in Walsh, Girls Amateur Champion Hannah Darling (pictured) at 25th, Annabell Fuller at 27th and 31st ranked Louise Duncan, the reigning Women’s Amateur champion fresh from finishing low amateur in the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.

The average ranking for the American team is 31, against 44 for GB&I.

At least GB&I’s lowest ranked player is only 87th. England’s Emily Toy holds that distinction, while reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Jensen Castle sits at 146th on the WAGR table. Take those two players out of the equation and the average ranking chasm gets even wider at 15 for the U.S. against 38 for the home team.

Do you, too, sense a drubbing? Thought so.

Cast your minds back to Nairn nine years ago. Even with world number five Charley Hull on the GB&I team, the home side was 5/2 outsiders with British bookmakers to defeat a stronger U.S side. GB&I hadn’t won the match since 1996, and no way would the home team win that year’s contest. Sure enough, the U.S. swept the opening foursome 3-0, and finished the first day 4-2 ahead. That became 6-3 after the Saturday morning foursomes. GB&I rallied to win the afternoon fourballs two and a half to a half but with a 6 ½ – 5 ½ lead going into the eight singles, the format, remember, U.S teams are so strong in, no way was GB&I going to win.

So it proved… er, um… Hold on, let me check my files….

Oops, I now see that supposedly stronger U.S. team lost the final session 5-3, and the cup the Curtis sisters bequeathed to golf. My files, and that great research tool the internet, tells me GB&I ACTUALLY won the 2012 Curtis Cup 10 ½ – 9 ½.

Ah yes, now I remember – I was there!

I still recall photographer Dave Cannon telling the GB&I team to hoist captain Tegwen Matthews into the air on Nairn’s 18th green so he had a decent winning picture. They were perhaps a little surprised at standing with the trophy at the end of the week, hence the reason Cannon had to give them a wee hint to start celebrating.

Looking back at the game story I produced for Golfweek, I wrote:

“No US team has ever lost the Curtis Cup after sweeping the first foursomes session 3-0 … Only one US team had lost after taking a lead into the singles. Twenty four times the US had done that and won, the sole exception coming in 1956.”

Like I said, GB&I has no chance of winning the Curtis Cup this week. Oh, and international golf matches aren't played on paper...

#JustSaying: “It was certainly not the result I was looking for, so I’m a little disappointed." 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup captain Pat Cornett

Photograph courtesy of the R&A

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