WEST POINT, MISS. – Great Britain’s Laura Davies and Trish Johnson demonstrated in today’s opening ISPS Handa Cup matches what made them so effective in past Solheim Cup competitions for Europe.
The top pairing for the World Team, Davies and Johnson turned in a 5-under-par performance to win their best-ball nine-hole match against Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon. When the afternoon nine-hole format changed to modified alternate-shot team matches, Davies and Johnson once again posted a 5-under score to win their match against Team USA’s Val Skinner and Rosie Jones.
"We've played a lot of golf together over the years and our games kind of gel,” said Davies, who has known Johnson since they were teenagers in England. “For instance, hole 18 was a classic today. I tried to drive it close to the green and ended up going into the water, and she just stood up and smashed it straight down the middle."
Coming into this week’s Handa Cup, Davies and Johnson had posted solid performances this summer on the LPGA and Ladies European Tours respectively. Davies tied for ninth at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, while Johnson recently won the Ladies' Scottish Open.
Making her LPGA Legends Tour debut today, the morning defeat wasn’t what Hall of Famer Juli Inkster expected at Old Waverly Golf Club, where she won the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. But having faced both Davies and Johnson over the years in Solheim Cup competitions between Europe and the United States, Inkster, who will captain the 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup team, knew the Britons always come to play.
Inkster and Mallon recovered from their morning loss to defeat the World Team’s Liselotte Neumann and Alicia Dibos in the first match of the afternoon session. Team USA trailed 7-5 after the morning session, but Inkster and Mallon’s afternoon match served as a springboard to square the results at 12-12 by the end of the day.
“It was disappointing to lose in the morning, but we were happy to come back and get a win for the team in the afternoon,” said Inkster. “A birdie on par-3 17th hole to match the World Team's birdie was key.”
Davies, Johnson and eight other members of the 2014 World Team were on last year’s team that defeated the Americans for the first time in eight ISPS Handa Cup competitions. The U.S. still leads the series 6-1-1, but the World Team has a draw and victory in the last two events.
Sunday’s singles matches at the ninth annual ISPS Handa Cup will decide who earns the 2014 Handa Cup. Johnson will face Florida’s Laurie Rinker in the first match. Inkster will face Davies again in Sunday’s third singles match.
Note: Australian Jan Stephenson rolled in a 30-foot putt on the final green in the next-to-the-last match to win the 2013 Handa Cup for the World Team. Stephenson is at Old Waverly this week, but withdrew from competition on Friday due to a wrist injury.
Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones, serving as assistant captain for the World Team, moved into the lineup as Stephenson’s replacement and put points on the board for her side. Playing with different partners in the morning and afternoon matches, Coe-Jones teamed up to halve both of her matches. She was scheduled to play in last year’s event, but sustained an injury and worked as a caddie, instead.
The ISPS Handa Cup is an annual team competition between American-born members of the LPGA’s Legends Tour and tour members who were born outside the United States. All players are LPGA members who are 45 and above.
For today’s scores, visit: Http://leaderboard.thelegendstour.com/usa-world-saturday-2014.php
Here is the schedule for Handa Cup singles matches on Sunday, Sept. 28:
9 a.m. Trish Johnson Laurie Rinker
9:10 a.m. Lorie Kane Beth Daniel
9:20 a.m. Laura Davies Juli Inkster
9:30 a.m. Wendy Doolan Val Skinner
9:40 a.m. Dawn Coe-Jones Barb Mucha
9:50 a.m. Jenny Lidback Sherri Turner
10 a.m. Mieko Nomura Christa Johnson
10:10 a.m. Jane Crafter Meg Mallon
10:20 a.m. Alison Nicholas Pat Bradley
10:30 a.m. Alicia Dibos Sherri Steinhauer
10:40 a.m. Liselotte Neumann Rosie Jones
10:50 a.m. Helen Alfredsson Nancy Scranton