Notebook: Amateur Careers End At Curtis Cup June 7, 2014 By Lisa D. Mickey

Stephanie Meadow, of Northern Ireland, ended her amateur career on a high note at the Curtis Cup with a singles win. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

ST. LOUIS – Two players had tears in their eyes Sunday afternoon as their amateur careers concluded at the 38th Curtis Cup Match.

The USA’s Ashlan Ramsey saw her amateur career end when Great Britain and Ireland’s Gemma Dryburgh drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win their singles match, 1 up, at St. Louis Country Club. Ramsey plans to turn professional on Monday.

GB&I’s Stephanie Meadow finished her amateur career with a 2-and-1 win over Alison Lee. Meadow plans to make her professional debut at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open in two weeks at Pinehurst No. 2.

The Curtis Cup has helped me be more confident and to know that I can pull off shots under pressure and play with the best players in the game, said Ramsey, 18. I’ve worked my entire amateur career to get to this point and it’s really special.

Ramsey won two tournaments and was a runner-up in another in her one college season at Clemson University. Her professional debut will come 24 hours after celebrating a 13-7 Curtis Cup win, when she competes in a pro-am in Rochester, N.Y.

I wish I could have gone out a little differently this week at the Curtis Cup, but I’m seeing a lot of progress in my game, added Ramsey, dabbing her eyes. It’s a new adventure and it’s a little nerve-racking, but exciting at the same time.  

Ramsey, who went 2-1-0 in the three-day event, said she has two exemptions into Symetra Tour tournaments and plans to play in four LPGA Tour Monday qualifiers, some Florida mini-tour tournaments and state opens. But her primary focus will be to prepare for the LPGA Tour’s Qualifying School later this year.

Meadows, who had a rivalry with UCLA’s Alison Lee throughout her senior season, was the GB&I Team’s top player at No. 7 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™.  

Playing for your country is very, very special, said Meadow, 22, who won nine college tournaments while at the University of Alabama and clinched the winning point for GB&I two years ago at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, ending a seven-match winning streak for the Americans. When I clinched the winning point at the Curtis Cup two years ago on home soil in front of thousands of people, that was the highlight of my amateur career. I’ll also always remember winning the [2012] NCAA Championship with my college team.

Despite entering the final singles session seven points down, Meadow remained hopeful her GB&I Team could rally and win all eight singles matches.

I wanted to come out here today and play my best, have fun and enjoy playing in front of a crowd, which I will be doing for years to come, added the 2012 Ladies British Amateur champion. It’s a great prep for my next step.

As for her transition into professional golf, Meadow said it has been her dream since she was a child to someday play professionally, but only after earning a college degree.

Going to college and playing golf, for me, was the best decision I ever made, she added.

Two other GB&I players from England – Annabel Dimmock, 17, and Georgia Hall, 18 – are planning to turn professional later this year.

I’m going to talk to my coach and discuss it when I get home to England, but I feel ready, said Dimmock, who won the 2014 Scottish Open Stroke Play and 2014 Doherty Cup, and was the runner-up at the South Atlantic Ladies Amateur.

Before she turns pro, however, Dimmock will compete in the Ladies British Amateur at Royal St. George’s and she hopes to play in some Ladies European Tour (LET) Access events as an amateur. At the end of 2014, she will try to qualify for the LET and play there for a year, before attempting to qualify for the LPGA Tour.

Hall will return as the defending champion at the British Ladies Matchplay Championship in June and will compete in the Women’s British Open and the English Ladies’ Championship this summer.

I’ve wanted to turn professional since I was 10 years old, said Hall. I’m not in a rush, but it will probably be sooner, rather than later.

Off To Pinehurst

Two members of the USA Team – Talley and Ally McDonald – will be teeing it up at Pinehurst No. 2 in two weeks for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Talley was exempt from qualifying off her U.S. Women’s Amateur victory. McDonald qualified in late May in Sanford, N.C., making a birdie on the first playoff hole to garner the final spot from the sectional.

When asked if playing under the pressure this week will help her in the Women’s Open, Talley said, This is a good week and now I have to go home and practice and get ready for that. Those girls are good.

Supportive Crowds

Galleries in St. Louis showed their knowledge of golf and support of fellow St. Louisian and USA Captain Ellen Port all week, which players from both sides appreciated. Fans also traveled from Great Britain and Ireland to support their team and enjoy the historic amateur competition.

We couldn’t ask for them to be any louder or any more supportive, said GB&I player Bronte Law, who was playing in her second Curtis Cup. It’s not a short journey to come all the way from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, so we appreciate all of their support and for them to be here. It’s really nice to be able to look up and see the Union Jack and the Irish flag.

Mariah Stackhouse, of Riverdale, Ga., praised the city’s support of her team’s captain, adding that it also helped that USGA President Tom O’Toole Jr. hails from St. Louis.

A testament to this city’s great golf fans came on Saturday when we had weather delays, said Stackhouse. When we went back out there to play after the weather suspension, the crowds were still there. That says a lot about how the people of this city embraced the tournament and that meant the world to us.

Stackhouse was also the golfing Pied Piper to numerous children who shadowed her all week. From the start of the week, youngsters waited outside the clubhouse to follow the American player every time she walked out the door.

My little buddies just wanted to be in the mix, she said. Local kids were a part of my team all week long. I had a blast with the children, both little boys and girls, and I’m going to miss them.

Odds and Ends

Hall had the shot of the day when she holed out for an eagle 3 on the par-5 15th hole en route to a 3-and-2 win over Kyung Kim. Kim hit her approach shot to within 3 feet, but Hall answered with a 50-degree wedge from 95 yards out, knocking it in on one bounce to win the hole … The USA’s Annie Park had an eagle 3 on the par-5 fifth hole, hitting a 3-wood from 250 yards out to 4 feet. ... The Walker Cup and Curtis Cup have now been regained in consecutive years by captains from St. Louis: Jim Holtgrieve and Ellen Port…The 2016 Curtis Cup will be contested at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in County Dublin, Ireland…The 2018 United States site has yet to be announced.

Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites. USGA senior staff writer David Shefter contributed to this notebook.