by Jeff Skinner
It wasn’t quite Brookline in ’99 with the “putt heard ‘round the world” but the comeback by the American Team at The Solheim Cup on Saturday afternoon was fairly amazing none the less. After losing their second straight session with a defeat in the morning foursomes the U.S. team looked to be losing its hold on the Solheim Cup as the Europeans took an early lead in the first match off the tee. In an exciting session the U.S. battled to tie the match at 8-8.
Captain Rosie Jones mixed things up a bit by pairing a winless Brittany Lang (0-2) with Michelle Wie (1-1) to hopefully earn a point for the U.S. but saw them take a horrible beating at the hands of Laura Davies and Melissa Reid. The Euros were 2 up after three holes and 4 up after six and that was all she wrote for Lang and Wie who lost 4 & 3. Both have been big disappointments for the American team.
The next match had Europe’s big gun Suzann Pettersen teamed with sensational rookie Caroline Hedwall against U.S. mainstays Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel. The U.S. went 1 down early at the third but weren’t ready to concede anything to the Europeans. After Kerr had made bogey, Pressel played the role of motivator as she put her arm around her and gave her a pep talk. Knowing how competitive the two are I can imagine that there wasn’t any ego stroking here, it probably was more like “So you made bogey, big deal, suck it up and let’s go get em.” And go get them they did. They overcame their deficit and pushed their lead to 2 up at the twelfth hole. The Euros got it to 1 down at the fifteenth and with a monster birdie putt from Pettersen at the par three sixteenth they had drawn even with the U.S. Morgan Pressel dug deep and birdied seventeen to go 1 up into the last and when all Europe could do was tie the hole the Americans had a hard earned point.
In the third match off both captains paired Solheim Cup rookies together and it may have sparked some controversy but both teams played so well it was the best played match of the day. Seeking redemption for her 0-2 start, major winner Stacy Lewis was anxious to get a point for her team that she has so surprisingly disappointed this week. Teamed with rookie phenom and truly the wildest of wild card picks, Ryann O’Toole, Lewis found her rhythm and fed off of O’Toole’s feistiness. It’s not like the European team of rookies Sandra Gal and Christel Boeljon played poorly, quite the contrary, they played outstanding golf. Only they ran into the buzz saw that was O’Toole and Lewis. The Euro’s ended the day with six birdies. The Americans finished with six birdies and an eagle and there wasn’t a bogey between the two teams. The 2 & 1 victory continued the U.S. comeback and gave Lewis some much needed confidence going into Sunday’s singles.
The last match off looked like the biggest challenge for the Europeans as Maria Hjorth and Azahara Munoz teed off against Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome. Creamer has been playing well and Lincicome had sat out the morning session but still had the 5 & 4 defeat in Friday fourballs on her mind. The Euros had both played in the morning session with good success but Paula Creamer is one tough Solheim Cup opponent. This was another close match with the U.S. taking the lead at the first hole with a birdie only to go all square at the second when Hjorth birdied. Back to 1 up with a par win at the third for the U.S. and they kept that lead until the Euro’s won back to back holes at the eighth and ninth. The Americans went all square with a birdie at ten and with birdies at three of the last four holes walked away with a 3 & 1 victory.
It was an amazing bit of golf to go out in the afternoon and sweep the final three matches. The match now stands tied at eight and if history proves anything the U.S. has the advantage.
In eight of the eleven Solheim Cup matches the U.S. has won the Sunday Singles matches. Over the last three Solheim Cups they have a superior record over Europe 21-9-6.
Here’s a look at the Sunday pairings.