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Lee clinches America's fifth straight Curtis Cup win

7/30/2006 - Golf

BANDON, Ore. -- One of the reasons Paige Mackenzie held off
going pro was to play in the Curtis Cup. The wait paid off on
Sunday when she celebrated an American victory with her teammates.

Jennie Lee beat Melissa Reid 3 and 2 on
Sunday to clinch the United States' fifth straight Curtis Cup
victory, an 11½-6½ decision over Britain and Ireland in the
biennial amateur women's competition.

Lee, who just finished her freshman year at Duke, halved the
16th hole with her opponent from Derbyshire, England, to give the
United States 9½ points and the overall win at Bandon Dunes resort.

Mackenzie, from Yakima, Wash., defeated Tricia Mangan of
Ennis, Ireland, 1-up, and Jane Park, who played at UCLA last season
as a freshman, downed Tara Delaney of Ireland 3 and 2 for the final
point total.

The 23-year-old Mackenzie was the most local of the players on
the U.S. team. She just wrapped up her senior year at Washington
and stayed an amateur to play in the Curtis Cup for captain Carol
Semple Thompson.

She was following in the footsteps of her brother, Brock, who
played in the 2003 Walker Cup -- the men's version of the
competition.

It was worth it in the end.

"Oh my gosh yes," she said. "It was so amazing, this whole
experience."

Britain and Ireland was down 7-2 after the first day, but
charged back with 2½ points in the three alternate-shot matches
Sunday morning.

Taylor Leon, who plays for Georgia, defeated Naomi Edwards of
Yorkshire, England, 5 and 4 in the afternoon to move the Americans
closer, but then Martina Gillen of Dublin downed Virginia Derby
Grimes, the oldest player on the U.S. team at 42, 3 and 2, and
Breanne Loucks of Wales beat Amanda McCurdy of El Dorado, Ariz., 3
and 2.

Leon was congratulated by Semple Thompson.

"That was great! Whew!" the captain said.

The wind picked up considerably in the afternoon on the par-71
Pacific Dunes course, carved into sand dunes on the Southern Oregon
coast, about a five-hour drive from Portland. Gusts played with
Mackenzie's hair ribbons.

"I heard on the [18th] fairway that Jennie won," said
Mackenzie, who was followed by a large gallery wearing "Team
Mackenzie" T-shirts. "The most important thing is coming home
with the win and giving our team a point, even if it didn't
matter."

The U.S. team needed just two more points Sunday to retain the
Curtis Cup, but Britain and Ireland came out strong in the
morning's alternate-shot foursome matches.

Loucks, the only player from Wales on her team, was paired with
pal Reid. Despite the pressure on their team, Loucks and Reid were
loose and relaxed in their 7-and-5 win over Lee and Jenny Suh. Loucks mugged for a television crew, waving "Hiya!"

Park and Leon halved their match against Mangan and Delaney.

Gillen and Edwards edged Mackenzie, who played for Washington,
and Duke's Amanda Blumenherst 1-up.

The morning session narrowed the American lead to 7½-4½.

Britain and Ireland was coached by Ada O'Sullivan of Ireland.

"It just didn't happen for us this afternoon, as simple as
that," O'Sullivan said. "At one stage it was looking good, but
after that it just turned around."

On Saturday, Mackenzie helped her team to a three-point lead in
foursomes play, then won her individual match with a bogey-free
round to lead the United States.

Mackenzie plans to play in the U.S. Women's Amateur championship
at Pumpkin Ridge, just outside Portland, in less than two weeks.
Then she intends to turn pro and is hoping for sponsor exemptions
in some late-season tournaments.

She finished tied for 13th in the U.S. Women's Open, which she
played as an amateur.

The Americans lead the Curtis series 25-6-3.