by Jeff Skinner
The U.S. Women were playing the role of Comeback Kids as they came down the stretch in the afternoon session at The Solheim Cup. Late in the day the scoreboard was all blue as Team Europe led in all four matches.
The first match to finish was the third match off the tee in the afternoon and Sophie Gustafson and Caroline Hedwall put an old fashioned butt whipping on Brittany Lincicome and Vicky Hurst. The Americans unable to right their ship and Europe handed them a 5 & 4 waxing.
The U.S. Team of Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel were in command of their match against much longer hitters Mel Reid and Laura Davies going 2 up for the bulk of the front nine. But things turned on the back as Europe made it all square on the tenth and were 1 up going into seventeen. Then the fireworks started. Paula Creamer steadied her nerves and holed a birdie on seventeen that won the hole and evened the match. On the next hole Pressell took her turn as she sunk a dramatic 25 footer for birdie to win the hole and the match. What had looked like a loss and then a possible half turned into a win due to the gritty play of the determined Americans.
Not every comeback ends with a win but Christina Kim and Ryann O’Toole have to feel like they stole one from the Euros. Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal came back from an early 2 down deficit to go 2 up after the twelfth hole. Kim wasn’t offering O’Toole much help until the sixteenth when she sunk a long birdie putt to cut the deficit to 1 down. Then the rookie O’Toole stepped up and made her fifth birdie of the day with a twenty foot bomb on seventeen to put the match all square. The two teams halved eighteen with pars but the U.S. Team has to appreciate the fact that they squeezed a half point from a match that looked like a sure loss.
With the overall point total tied at 3.5 for each team the last match was completed in ever quickening darkness. Euros Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist jumped out to an early lead over Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie. The Euros were 2 up after three holes and led 3 up at the turn but after a few U.S. birdies they were nursing a 1 up lead after the fourteenth. The lead stayed there as they teed off on eighteen in darkness. Poor approaches into eighteen by Wie and Kerr left the Euros needing only a conceded par to take the hole and win the match 2 up. It was the first time in two Solheim Cup appearances that the Kerr/Wie team had been beaten.
While the U.S. team lost the afternoon session 2.5 to 1.5 they still have to feel good about their afternoon and only trailing by one point 4.5 to 3.5. For a long time they were in danger of getting swept by the European team and the bright play of Ryann O’Toole, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel has to give them a bit of confidence going into tomorrow’s second day at Killeen Castle.