Staged on the Palmer Course at Reunion Resort and Golf Club, the Handa Cup pitted squads from the U.S. and a World Team in an annual team match-play event for members of the Legends Tour, the tour for LPGA Tour members age 45 and over.
Team USA, comprised of five LPGA Hall of Famers and captained by 43-time LPGA Tour champion JoAnne “Big Mama” Carner, managed to retain the Handa Cup in spite of a well-executed strategy by the strongest-ever international team.
“We need only to be a tiny bit better to win next year,” said World Team Captain Pia Nilsson at the closing ceremony following today’s singles matches.
Carner responded, “We liked that it was close, but not that close.”
The two sides were tied 12-12 after the first day of team matches, but the World squad raced to an early lead in today’s 18-hole singles matches with Alison Nicholas of Great Britain and Australia’s Jane Crafter winning the opening two matches against U.S. team members Patty Sheehan and Cindy Rarick, respectively.
Hall of Famer Pat Bradley scored a win for the U.S. over Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson, but the World team stormed back and led by as many as six points with wins by Peru’s Jenny Lidback and Canada’s Dawn Coe-Jones.
“This year was Pia’s second year as captain and I think we came together as a team more,” said Lidback. “We came so close to winning it.”
The turning point came midway through today’s singles matches when Hall of Famer Beth Daniel added two points for Team USA with a win over Sweden’s Catrin Nilsmark, who led for most of the match.
After Daniel’s win, Americans Rosie Jones, Sherri Steinhauer and Cindy Figg-Currier each secured two points for the U.S. side with wins over South Africa’s Sally Little, Jan Stephenson of Australia and Anne Marie Palli of France. All three Americans went out strong and never trailed in their respective matches.
Figg-Currier’s victory moved the United States past the internationals for the first time today by a narrow margin of 22-20. After that stretch of points, Team USA needed only one more win out of the three remaining matches to reach 24 points to retain the Cup.
Trading leads with Canadian Gail Graham for most of the round, Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez birdied the 17th hole to take a two-shot lead over Graham going into the last hole. Lopez’s par putt on the 18th green secured two more points for Team USA to win back the Handa Cup.
“I had no idea,” said Lopez. “Coming down to the last three holes, I was nervous, but I just wanted to get my two points.”
The World Team won the last two matches to even up the score, but at that point, the Cup had been decided with the U.S. squad reaching 24 points. World Team anchor Lorie Kane of Canada fired the best round of the tournament with a score of 7-under 65, topping U.S. Team member Sherri Turner by six strokes.
Finishing the weekend undefeated were Pat Bradley, who accomplished a similar feat in 2007, and Rosie Jones, who has now won 15 consecutive Handa Cup matches.
“It was a great competition,” added Nilsson, the World Team’s captain. “But it was a victory for women’s golf.”
For complete scores and highlights, visit www.thelegendstour.com. For photos, please contact Sue Fracker, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Legends Tour
The Legends Tour is the Official Legends Tour of the LPGA. The tour began in 2000 by LPGA professionals to showcase the talents of some of the greatest women’s golfers of all time. The Legends Tour has more than 100 members, including 10 LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members. Legends Tour players have over 650 combined LPGA Tour victories, including 65 major championships. In its 11 seasons, The Legends Tour has awarded more than $9 million in prize money and helped raise more than $11 million for charity. The Legends Tour has hosted events in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Japan and Australia. For additional information on The Legends Tour, log on to www.thelegendstour.com .
Contact: Sue Fracker at email@example.com and 617-513-4716.