by Jeff Skinner
The final day of the Solheim Cup was a fitting climax to a well played and compelling weekend of golf. Each team played like champions and better yet all displayed the spirit of sportsmanship that the Solheim family had envisioned when they established the competition.
The U.S. and European teams gave us brilliant golf and memorable moments. The U.S. team had its share of drama as team leader Cristie Kerr had to withdraw due to her injured wrist but the ladies gave it all they had.
A few stars were born out of this loss and a few players have to be wishing they could do it all over again. It may seem odd to label a female player as a stud but there were plenty of studs in Ireland. Morgan Pressel was the best American player, period. She won every point in every match she played in, 4-0-0, and on Sunday with Kerr in a sling and Paula Creamer stumbling, it was Pressel that stopped the bleeding. Paula Creamer has been at the heart of the Solheim Cup wins for the U.S. and up until the singles she was great, 3-0-1 but her horrid play on Sunday was totally out of character for her. Cristie Kerr was 2-1-1 before her forfeit and certainly played well considering she was injured but having no one in that anchor spot hurt the U.S. in a big way. The biggest disappointment of the team is a tossup between Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford. So much was expected from major winner Lewis and her well earned reputation with a 5-0 record in the Curtis Cup. Lewis and Angela Stanford were toasted twice in foursomes and Lewis squandered her lead in the singles on Sunday. Lewis earned only one point for the week 1-3. Stanford went 0-3-0, the poorest record on the U.S. team. Brittany Lang was 0-3-0 going into singles and Sandra Gal handed her the victory there with four bogeys and a double on her card to get Lang her lone win.
Michelle Wie went 1-3-0 for the week but almost salvaged her week and The Cup with a win against Suzann Petersen. Her putting cost her until she warmed up during the singles match. Maybe the long putter experiment should be scratched. Brittany Lincicome scored better than she played, 2-2-0. She was teamed with Creamer for both her wins and never led in her singles loss. Cristina Kim’s biggest problem was that we didn’t see enough of her. She earned a half point on Friday and she was on the bench until the singles, 1-0-1, the team needed more of her. Vicky Hurst was another missing in action player. After a bad pairing and a loss with Lincicome, Hurst sat until the singles where she took down a very good Mel Reid. Juli Inkster may have played her last Solheim Cup and it wasn’t pretty for her. Her come from behind half in the singles was the high point of her week.
No Captain’s pick ever created more buzz than Rosie Jones selection of Ryann O’Toole. With only seven LPGA events under her belt Jones took a huge gamble on her. O’Toole proved more than worthy of the captain’s pick and was a star for her team. She went 2-0-2 and her three points were topped only by Creamer and Pressell. She was mentored by Kim in her first match and earned a draw, teamed with Pressel for a win and got Stacy Lewis going when they teamed up for a win. Any captain would have signed up for three points from a rookie. Unfortunately, many will view her half point in singles as a failure but they shouldn’t. O’Toole played like a stud all tournament.
The sting of this loss may stay with the Americans for awhile but looking at the big picture this was just what the Solheim Cup needed. The American domination had threatened the significance of the cup but this match has reinvigorated the Solheim Cup. This European win did more for the tournament than any victory by the U.S. could. The ladies of the American Team may not agree but this was the best thing that could happen to the Solheim Cup.