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Americans build early 5-1 lead at Curtis Cup

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After an inspirational pre-game speech from Mariah Stackhouse, the Americans got off to a hot start Friday in the first day of the biennial Curtis Cup.

Stackhouse, the first African-American participant in Curtis Cup history, spoke to her teammates on the first tee at St. Louis Country Club, then teamed with Emma Talley to win the first match of the day, 2 and 1, over Stephanie Meadow and Georgia Hall from Great Britain & Ireland. The victory keyed a 3-0 sweep for the U.S., as the Americans took each of the four-ball matches in the morning wave.

The afternoon saw a switch to foursomes format, with the U.S. going 1-0-2 to build a 5-1 overall advantage after the first day. Annie Park and Erynne Lee put aside their collegiate differences - Park anchored the USC squad this year, while Lee played for cross-town rival UCLA - to defeat Eilidh Briggs and Gabriella Cowley, 3 and 1. Talley teamed with Ally McDonald in the anchor match and had a chance to make the overall margin even more lopsided, but she missed a four-foot putt on the 18th green and the match was halved.

The format will repeat Saturday, with three four-ball matches in the morning followed by a trio of foursomes matches in the afternoon. A total of eight singles matches will be played Sunday.

Great Britain & Ireland won the Curtis Cup in 2012 by a 10.5 to 9.5 margin, but overall the U.S. holds a 27-7-3 win in the matches that perenially match top female amateurs against one another. The U.S. has won four straight matches on home soil since the contest ended in a 9-9 draw in 1994, and Team GB & I has not won outright in the U.S. since 1986.