Fourball losses put GB on back foot in Curtis Cup

Gemma Dryburgh:  4&3 defeat. Picture: Jeff Roberson
Gemma Dryburgh: 4&3 defeat. Picture: Jeff Roberson
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IT WAS a famous victory at Nairn two years ago. But Great Britain and Ireland began the defence of the Curtis Cup in shaky fashion by losing the three first-day fourballs at St Louis Country Club.

Eilidh Briggs was rested for the first series while fellow-Scot Gemma Dryburgh teamed up with Annabel Dimmock, the 17-year-old winner of the Helen Holm Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship at Troon in April.

But they were four down at the turn and suffered a disappointing 4&3 defeat following a spree of birdies by Alison Lee and Kyung Kim. The other two GB and Ireland pairings did not fare much better. In the top match, Mariah Stackhouse, the first African-American to play in the contest, and Emma Tailey overcame England’s Georgia Hall and Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow by 2&1.

In the final tie, Annie Park and Ally McDonald completed the whitewash with a 4&3 triumph over Bronte Law and Charlotte Thomas.

But GB and Ireland captain Tegwen Matthews can call on history to prove that all is not yet lost. The score after the morning foursomes at Nairn two years ago was also 3-0 to the US. But the home side clawed a way back and eventually went into the final-day singles just a point behind and secured a famous one-point win.

Dryburgh and Dimmock didn’t play too shabbily. They just came up against two hot players. Lee and Kim were five under par through the first eight holes and never dropped a shot all morning. They won the fifth, sixth and eighth. The GB and Ireland girls matched the birdies at the fourth and seventh. But a losing par at the long ninth and a bogey five at the tenth put them five down.

GB and Ireland has only won once in the States, at Prairie Dunes in 1986 when Scot Belle Robertson made her seventh and final playing appearance. There was another memorable performance at the Honors Course in Chattanooga in 1994 when Scots made up half the visiting line-up. Catriona Matthew, Mhairi McKay, Janice Moodie and Myra McKinlay helped GB and Ireland draw the match and retain the cup won at Hoylake two years earlier.

But there is now a mountain to climb if Matthews’ troops are going to enjoy a wonderful weekend in St Louis.