Teenage sensation Michelle Wie led from the front as the United States retained the Curtis Cup when they beat Great Britain and Ireland 10-8 in an enthralling match at Formby on Sunday. The 14-year-old Hawaiian, one of three schoolgirls in the side, lived up to her reputation as the most exciting player since Tiger Woods as she turned on an impressive display of shot-making.

After overwhelming Nicola Timmins six and five, racking up five birdies in the process, Wie stayed on the course to support the rest of her team-mates who were not being given such as easy ride by their tenacious opponents.

The host nation, captained by Monkstown's Ada O'Sullivan, won the morning foursomes 2-1 to square the match at 6-6 and for a time their players, and the record 8,100 crowd, sensed there could be an upset on the cards.

Even after Emma Duggleby suffered her first defeat of the two days, going down three and two to 17-year-old Paula Creamer, there was still all to play for as Anne Laing despatched Jane Park three and one and Cork's Claire Coughlan closed out Brittany Lang with a birdie on the final green.

Fittingly, it was there where the United States made certain of at least halving the match when Elizabeth Janangelo coolly holed from six feet to beat plucky Shelly McKevitt who had been two ahead at the turn. Annie Thurman ensured an outright victory, battling back from one down after 14 to shake off Danielle Masters also on last green.

US captain Martha Kirouac enthused of Wie's impact on the event: "Her contribution was also to world-wide women's golf. The galleries got a wonderful glimpse of a girl with extraordinary talent. She arrived here having not played these type of courses but had it all figured out and came out this afternoon firing double barrels. Every time I heard the radios they were saying she was knocking it stiff again."

Kirouac admitted the difference between the two sides was that her team-mates 'sneaked in an extra putt or two'.

She added, however: "In our country there is a very competitive arena for junior golf and in the colleges and I got very comfortable with the abilities of our young players. They have considerable skill. But I tip my hat to the Great Britain and Ireland team for the way they handled the conditions."

O'Sullivan, her opposite number, said: "At one point it looked as if we could do it but one or two things went against us. I kept living in hope that something might happen but in the end it was too late."

Defeat denied the home side the opportunity to add the Curtis Cup to its already impressive haul of Ryder, Solheim and Walker Cup honours. 

Filed by Shane Murray