herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Solheim swings Europe’s way

EUROPE regained the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003 after a dramatic 15-13 final day victory over the United States at Killeen Castle yesterday.

The outcome hinged on the last three matches and they all swung in Europe's favour. Spaniard Azahara Munoz clinched the vital point in the final match with a one-hole win over Angela Stanford.

In the penultimate match, Caroline Hedwall, who was two down with two to play against Ryann O'Toole, won the last two holes for a vital half point.

Suzann Pettersen had started the final half hour of drama when she fought back from one down with three to play to beat Michelle Wie |by one hole. The world number two birdied the final three holes, holing from eight feet at the last.

It was a first ever singles win for Pettersen and only a fourth Solheim Cup victory for Europe in 12 contests.

Tied 8-8 overnight, Europe were handed a surprise when American Cristie Kerr was forced to withdraw from the final singles against Karen Stupples with an injured wrist. Her point was forfeited and Europe moved 9-8 ahead.

On the course, Catriona Matthew gave Europe a great start with a crushing |6 and 5 victory over Paula Creamer in the |top singles and Sophie Gustafson added a second point for the home side with a final green win over Stacy Lewis.

Brittany Lang claimed the first point for the United States with a 6 and 5 margin over Sandra Gal and Morgan Pressel made sure of four wins out of four with a great comeback against Anna Nordqvist.

The American was two down after eight holes but, following a short rain delay, she came back and won five holes in a row and went on to win by 2 and 1.

“I am friends with Cristie and when I heard she had to pull out I knew I had to win my point for her,” said 23-year-old Pressel, who was her side's top points scorer.

“During the rain delay we had a bit of a rallying chat in the team room and I said I was going to start my comeback and said everyone had to do the same.”

The veterans' match between 51-year-old Juli Inkster, the oldest ever Solheim player, and 47-year-old Laura Davies, the only one to play in all 12 contests, came down to the wire.

Davies, the home crowd favourite, was one up playing the par-four 18th and both\[Shane Hegarty\] players bunkered their second shots. But Inkster nearly holed her third from 30 yards, while the Briton failed to make a 10-foot par putt. The match ended all square and it was a vital half point for the visitors.

Christina Kim comfortably defeated Swede Maria Hjorth, before two rookies both finally won their first Solheim Cup points. American Vicky Hurst beat Melissa Reid by two holes and Europe's Christel Boeljon overcame Brittany Lincicome by the same margin.

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