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Lee, Blumenherst Anchor U.S. To, 7-2, Curtis Cup Lead
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 07/30/2006
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Amanda Blumenherst won her foursome match on Saturday morning
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Release provided by USGA

Bandon, Ore. – The United States of America team, buttressed by a 3-0 record in the morning foursomes, rode that to a 7-2 advantage over the squad from the Great Britain & Ireland after the first day at the 2006 Curtis Cup Match, being held on the Pacific Dunes Course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

The USA, which last swept the first-day foursomes in 2002, was helped by going 4-2 in afternoon singles. Its day-one lead duplicated four others for the second-largest margin since the current format was implemented in 1964. 

As a result, the USA squad is just two points away from retaining The Women’s International Cup, and needs nine-and-a-half points to win the Curtis Cup Match outright.

“We might be in dream world thinking you could win nine [matches Sunday],” said GB&I captain Ada O’Sullivan. “Technically what we need to win is seven-and-a-half matches. And that is possible.”

Possible yes, but with USA captain Carol Semple Thompson’s team running on all cylinders, it’ll be a tough task.

By and large, USA players credited Semple Thompson’s calming influence for their early success.

“Seriously, it suits the manner of the personality of our team,” said Paige Mackenzie of Yakima, Wash., joining Taylor Leon of Dallas, Texas, and Jane Park of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., as the only three competitors to go 2-0 on the day.

Semple Thompson’s laid-back style seemed to help Mackenzie, who shot the equivalent of four under par during her 5-and-4 victory over England’s Melissa Reid. Making her way to the seventh tee after losing the sixth to lead 1 up, Mackenzie was stopped by a loitering Semple Thompson. “Keep going,” was all Semple Thompson whispered. 

Semple Thompson credited an abnormal lack of wind that is usually one of Pacific Dunes’ staples. O’Sullivan thought it caught her players off guard, adding that “we were simply outclassed and outplayed this afternoon.”

“It was very benign today and I think that worked to our advantage,” said Semple Thompson.

GB&I appeared to gain a boost when 18-year-old Breanne Loucks of Wales notched the team’s first point with a convincing 5-and-4 triumph over Amanda Blumenherst, 19, of Duke University and Scottsdale, Ariz.

Starting on No. 5, Loucks won the next six holes thanks to her ball-striking. She effectively gave herself chances at pars, while Blumenherst bogeyed the eighth, ninth and 10th holes.

An overly excited Loucks had been unaware that she had knocked off arguably the top college player in the U.S. in Blumenherst. The fact that she scored the GB&I’s first point wasn’t lost on her, either.

“As I got 6 up, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m 6 up,” said Loucks, who sat out the foursomes. “It’s amazing really. It’s hard to find the words. What do I say to say how happy I am.”

Shortly after, 17-year-old Kiran Matharu administered a 2-up victory against 20-year-old Jenny Suh of Fairfax, Va. Matharu, the youngest player on either side, pitched 55 yards to within 15 feet of the hole on No. 17. She had a feeling before Suh missed a 6-footer for par to lose the hole that she was on the verge of victory. 

The GB&I excitement was short-lived, though, because the USA’s Jennie Lee, 19, of Duke University and Henderson, Nev., Mackenzie, and the 19-year-old Leon filed through with victories.

The only match left after that was Park’s, against 20-year-old Tara Delaney of Carlow, Ireland. The fellow 19-year-old Park provided inspiration the night before by telling her teammates that it wouldn’t be wise to fall behind. Along with Virginia Derby Grimes, Park is the only other USA player with past Curtis Cup experience. But it has been Park who has assumed the leadership role, garnering the respect of her teammates, who in turn, have fed off her.

“I told them that even if we're down in the afternoon or after the morning matches, just don't give up,” said Park. “And a win is always out there; you just got to execute the shot well. And just believe in yourself.”

Hampered by sore legs, Park blocked out the nagging aches to carve out a 2-up advantage after the first 10 holes. Four of Park’s five birdies led to holes in her favor. She closed out the match on the 16th hole by getting up and down from a back greenside bunker.

All in all, Semple Thompson admitted she’d be lying if she thought beforehand that the day would transpire like it did.

“This is a lot more fun when we're winning,” said Semple Thompson. “I am just in awe of my team.  I thought we would be ahead at the end of the day, but I did not think we would have a 7‑2 lead.  So I think shocked is maybe a little strong, but surprised, yes, definitely.”
 
Bandon, Ore. – Results of Saturday’s foursomes (alternate shot) and singles matches at the 34th Curtis Cup Match at the 6,221-yard, par-71 Pacific Dunes Course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort:

Saturday

Foursomes (alternate shot)

Paige Mackenzie, Yakima, Wash., and Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz., def. Tricia Mangan, Ireland, and Kiran Matharu, England, 5 and 4

Virginia Derby Grimes, Meridian, Miss., and Amanda McCurdy, El Dorado, Ark., def. Martina Gillen, Ireland, and Naomi Edwards, England, 2 up

Jane Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Taylor Leon, Dallas, Texas, def. Claire Coughlan, Ireland, and Melissa Reid, England, 1 up

Singles

Kiran Matharu, England, def. Jenny Suh, Fairfax, Va., 2 and 1
Jennie Lee, Henderson, Nev., def. Martina Gillen, Ireland, 4 and 3
Breanne Loucks, Wales, def. Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz., 5 and 4
Paige Mackenzie, Yakima, Wash., def. Melissa Reid, England, 5 and 4
Jane Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., def. Tara Delaney, Ireland, 3 and 2
Taylor Leon, Dallas, Texas, def. Claire Coughlan, Ireland, 5 and 4
 
Bandon, Ore. – Pairings for Sunday’s foursomes (alternate shot) matches at the 34th Curtis Cup Match at the 6,621-yard, par-71 Pacific Dunes Course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort:

Foursomes (alternate shot)

Tricia Mangan, Ireland, and Tara Delaney, Ireland, vs. Jane Park, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Taylor Leon, Dallas, Texas
Melissa Reid, England, and Breanne Loucks, Wales, vs. Jennie Lee, Henderson, Nev., and Jenny Suh, Fairfax, Va.
Martina Gillen, Ireland, and Naomi Edwards, England, vs. Paige Mackenzie, Yakima, Wash., and Amanda Blumenherst,
Scottsdale, Ariz.

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