ST. LOUIS – Despite a commanding seven-point lead going into the eight singles matches on Sunday at St. Louis Country Club, USA Curtis Cup Team Captain Ellen Port was still strategizing on the order of play. She didn’t blindly pick names out of a hat. She was sticking to her game plan.
And that philosophy was to bat reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley in the leadoff spot. It didn’t matter who Great Britain and Ireland threw out there, the Princeton, Ky., resident was going to set the table.
Emma likes to go off first, said Port. She likes to get going.
Talley didn’t disappoint. The rising junior from the University of Alabama won consecutive holes at Nos. 4 and 5 and never looked back in posting a 4-and-3 win over Bronte Law, of England. The victory gave the USA the necessary point to reclaim the Cup it had lost two years ago at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. The USA, which won the Match 13-7, has now won eight of the last nine matches in the biennial competition.
When Captain Port put me out first, I wanted to get it done for my team, so they could play their hearts out today, said Talley. We all wanted to play for each other this week. It was a privilege that I got to go out first. I was very happy that I got that opportunity and secured the point. It was definitely an honor.
Putting the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion out first isn’t unprecedented. Noreen Mohler, who captained the victorious 2010 USA Team, did it at Essex County Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., with Jennifer Song. Song lost, 3 and 2, but the USA won comfortably, 12½-7½.
Port was just hoping Talley, who finished with a 3-0-1 record, could maintain her momentum from Saturday’s morning four-ball match with Mariah Stackhouse. Even though Talley was held out of the afternoon foursomes session, Port took a calculated risk that one of her vocal leaders could stay in good form.
Talley played the equivalent of 2-under-par golf for the 15 holes, with the usual concessions for match play. And even when it looked like she might lose a hole, Talley found a way to convert. She holed an 8-foot comebacker for par on No. 14 before Law converted from 6 feet and then calmly two-putted on 15 to close out the match after her Law three-putted for bogey.
She remained hot, said Port, and on this golf course against Bronte Law, that’s a lot.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.