Sport Golf

Thursday 14 December 2017

Leona targets Curtis glory as Matthews rallies troops

The Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup Team (front l-r) Bronte Law, Kelly Tidy, Tegwen Matthews (captain), Amy Boulden, Stephanie Meadow (back row l-r) Anna Hubbard (team manager), Charley Hull, Pamela Pretswell, Holly Clyburn, Leona Maguire. Photo: Getty Images
The Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup Team (front l-r) Bronte Law, Kelly Tidy, Tegwen Matthews (captain), Amy Boulden, Stephanie Meadow (back row l-r) Anna Hubbard (team manager), Charley Hull, Pamela Pretswell, Holly Clyburn, Leona Maguire. Photo: Getty Images

Chris Smart

It will be with mixed emotions that Slieve Russell superstar Leona Maguire lines up in the GB&I Curtis Cup side against the Americans at Nairn this morning in the 37th staging of the competition.

Normally alongside Leona is her twin sister, but this time Lisa has been named only as a reserve so will have to watch from the sidelines as the hosts seek a first victory over the Americans since Killarney in 1996 (11½-6½).

Two years ago Leona, now 17, was below her best on her Curtis Cup debut, taking just 1½ points, but she did win her singles 2&1 against Tiffany Lua and has matured significantly since then.

Stephanie Meadow from Royal Portrush is the other Irish player in the eight-strong team -- she was a member of the defeated Vagliano Trophy side at Royal Porthcawl last summer. Maguire and Meadow have been paired together for the opening foursomes this morning.

New captain Tegwen Matthews is very open about her game plan -- she wants her players to go on the offensive from the start.

"Every one of the Americans is beatable on a particular day. Even Tiger Woods in his prime could be beaten in match play," she said.

Three foursomes and three fourballs are being contested on each of the first two days and the biennial match concludes with eight singles on Sunday.

morning's order of play (GB&I first): K Tidy & A Boulden v A Ernst & B Pancake; H Clyburn & B Law v A Anderson & T Lua; L Maguire & S Meadow v L Duncan & L McCoskey.

• Alan Dunbar will attempt this weekend to become only the second player to win the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy twice -- and at the same time cement his place in the GB&I team to take on the Continent of Europe this year.

"This is one of the most important events of the year and it is vital to do well in it to keep up the momentum," said Dunbar.

• CASTLETROY'S Eamon Haugh is the only Irish golfer still just about in touch with the leaders after the first round of the European Mid-Amateur Championship in Estonia.

Three Scandinavians are out in front on one-under going into today's second round, with Haugh the best performer of the Irish contingent yesterday with a five-over-par 77.

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