KILLARNEY, Ireland (AP) _ A strong performance in afternoon singles play today gave Britain-Ireland a 6-3 lead over the United States halfway through the two-day Curtis Cup, the biennial match-play women's amateur golf competition.

The two teams split the three morning foursomes matches _ each picking up 1 1/2 points, then the defending champions won 4 1/2 points in singles to 1 1/2 for the Americans.

arah LeBrun Ingram defeated Julie Hall 4 and 2 for the only American victory in singles, and teammate Marla Jemsek halved with Elaine Ratcliffe.

In the morning foursomes, 18-year-old Cristie Kerr sank a 15-foot putt at the 18th hole to give the United States a split in the three matches.

Britain-Ireland and the Americans each won one of the foursomes. The third ended in a halve to give each team 1 1/2 points.

Kerr, teammed with Carol Semple Thompson, sank the long putt to allow the Americans to halve the par-4 18th hole and gain a precious half point.

``I had a feeling I would hole the putt, but you just give it your best effort and just hope,'' said Kerr, who just graduated from Miami's Sunset High School.

In the two other foursomes, Americans Ellen Port and Kelli Kuehne defeated Julie Hall and Lisa Educate 2 and 1, and the British pair of Alison Rose and Lisa Dermott defeated Marla Jemsek and Brenda Corrie-Kuehn 3 and 1.

The Americans hold a 20-5 advantage in the series, but the United States has won only one of the last five (1990) and hasn't won abroad since 1984.

Two years ago in Chattanooga, Tenn., the combined Britain-Ireland team tied 9-9 with the Americans to hold on to the cup it won in 1992.

Saturday's play will feature three morning foursomes and six singles matches in the afternoon.