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Great Britain and Ireland hold off US surge to capture the Curtis Cup

By Cian Tracey

For just the 10th time in the history of the Curtis Cup, Great Britain and Ireland claimed the trophy on a dramatic final day at Dun Laoghaire golf club.

Trailing, 8-4 after Saturday's play, USA had it all to do and although they mounted a stirring comeback, the visitors fell just short of retaining their title.

The hosts dominated the early exchanges but just as USA looked like they may pull off a remarkable comeback, Meghan MacLaren held her nerve to seal a 2&1 victory that sealed an 11.5 to 8.5 overall win that will see the trophy remain on this side of the Atlantic.

Leona Maguire was in inspired form across a brilliant three days of golf and she won four points from a possible five.

Tandragee 18-year-old Olivia Mehaffey saw her rapidly growing reputation enhanced even further as she picked up 3.5 from five points, including a thrilling half point against Hannah O'Sullivan, the number one ranked amateur player in the world.

Maria Dunne (Skerries) who was playing in the Curtis Cup for the first team also impressed as she bounced back from a disappointing first day to pick two crucial points on Saturday.

USA's game plan was easy to see as they sent their top player O'Sullivan out first in a clear bid to try and get a point on the board early but the 18-year-old, whose grandparents hail from Limerick and Tipperary, came up against Mehaffey who put together a fine round.

Mehaffey had led by two at the turn but a three-putt bogey on 10 opened the door for O'Sullivan and she didn't need a second invitation to claw her way back into the match.

The Down native, who is currently ranked 8th in the world, had to rely on her putter to brilliantly save her twice on 14 and 17 but she let her one hole advantage slip on the last.

O'Sullivan split the fairway with her tee shot and perhaps feeling the pressure, Mehaffey slightly pushed hers to the right and found the rough.

Left with a difficult second, she was short with her approach but O'Sullivan didn't take advantage as she pushed her approach to the right of the green.

Mehaffey's brilliant chip to five feet sparked a huge roar among the large gallery but when O'Sullivan almost holed her third, the pressure was right back on her opponent.

A deathly silence fell around the 18th green and Mehaffey's putt for the match agonisingly lipped out as O'Sullivan's gutsy performance was rewarded.

In truth, neither girl deserved to lose and although Mehaffey looked gutted, her half point was important as her team-mates behind her finished off the job.

Maguire enjoyed a 3&2 victory over Sierra Brooks as the second ranked player in the world went head-to-head with the American girl sitting three places behind her in another high class match.

The 21-year old from Cavan is likely to turn professional in the near future and she was delighted to have won her second Curtis Cup medal in three appearances.

"It's just been an unbelievable week," Maguire said. "Hearing the cheers around the course in the past few days has been very special. We could tell straight away if that was a GB&I cheer or not and that really just spurs everyone on."

Belfast Telegraph


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