Curtis Cup
Hannah Darling (left) and Annabell Fuller chat while competing Saturday at the Curtis Cup. (Chris Keane/USGA)

Not Down Without a Fight: An Electrified GB&I

A vengeful GB&I team used Saturday afternoon to attempt to live rent-free in Team USA’s head

By Jordan Perez

ARDMORE, Pa. — “One if by land, two if by sea,” Paul Revere once signaled. But not even he could have prepared Team USA for the attack GB&I would unleash on Saturday afternoon.

Indeed. The morning four-ball looked like it was headed GB&I’s way, with Caley McGinty and Lauren Walsh securing an early 5-and-4 win.

The anchor match shifted to Emilia Migliaccio and Latanna Stone vs. Louise Duncan and Charlotte Heath, all tied up on No. 18. Heath was the only player to find the fairway, while the tee balls of the others rolled into the left rough. Migliaccio and Stone advanced closer to the green, while a nervous Duncan topped her ball. Despite her fairway lie, Heath struggled to convert for par.

GB&I
Heath reacts to missing a putt on the 18th hole. (Chris Keane/USGA)

Nothing could stop Migiliaccio from infusing a red-hot par for the second Team USA point of the morning. A rush of red, white and blue roared in with hugs and cheers, and a heartbroken Duncan quickly escaped the tough scene to the clubhouse.

The score at the end of the Saturday morning session: 7-2, Team USA. 

Enter an angry Great Britain & Ireland team, and an inspired Annabell Fuller and Hannah Darling. Although they lost their own four-ball match to Megha Ganne and Amari Avery, 2 and 1, their muse came from wanting to salvage the result for the greater good.

“Come on. We’ve got to get it back for them.” 

For the afternoon foursomes session, Captain Elaine Ratcliffe retained two of her pairings from the morning, including Darling and Fuller (who had gone 0-2 for the week), ready to lay fire to the pesky Americans. She maintained her trust in the pair, a value she embraced during the competition.

“That’s one of the things we talked about all week,” Ratcliffe said. “Trusting our team, trusting each other, and also trusting themselves and their processes.”

The range before the afternoon session told a disparate tale. GB&I meant business, with Fuller working through her driver and Darling tuning out the world with AirPods and irons. The tension and focus on one side couldn’t be more perpendicular to the red, white and blue golf balls and jokes flying on the U.S. side. Little did the side with the lighter mood know what they would be in for in the hour that followed.

GB&I charged quickly. Fuller and Darling were up against Latanna Stone and Jensen Castle. Fuller and Darling won four consecutive holes, pushing Stone and Castle into a few errors. 

Amelia Williamson and Emily Price mustered a 2-up lead after four holes on the front nine over Avery and Rachel Kuehn, but that dissolved after a momentum-boosting 20-footer from Avery on No. 8. 

McGinty and Walsh commanded most of the first match against Rose Zhang and Rachel Heck, going 4 up at one point. The back nine told another story, though, and a lip-out from Walsh made a half-point tough to accept.

The scoreboards were as clear as day, and Fuller and Darling knew what they needed to do. Their lead slipped away after the turn, but they regained their poise at the end, with Darling pouring in two crucial puts to seal GB&I’s lone afternoon point, 2 and 1. 

Darling celebrated the putt that clinched GB&I’s lone point in the afternoon. (Chris Keane/USGA)

For the fired-up 18-year-old Darling, that win was long overdue.

“The fact that it’s come this late is obviously a bit annoying, but we got it done,” she said. “To almost have the momentum in our favor now going into tomorrow, that’s huge.”

Being down five points wasn’t the position GB&I envisioned, but the afternoon proved GB&I could shake up Team USA in pivotal moments. And with a captain whose trust perseveres in every situation, the visitors are determined to take the eight singles matches to the wire.

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