When the first two sessions of the Solheim Cup ended Friday evening, Europe led the U.S. 5-3, thanks in part to a bizarre situation where Europe's Carlota Ciganda hit her second at the par-5 15th into a lateral water hazard. The rules officials on the scene decided to apply Rule 26-1b, but later that discovered that Rule 26-1c (ii) applied instead. And while the LPGA issued a press release missing a date and time-stamp stating their regret at the incorrect ruling, they failed to apologize for wasting 25 minutes in order to arrive at that initial incorrect conclusion.
Nevertheless, the USA's 3-5 deficit was less than their 1-4 deficit after Round 1, thanks in part to Michelle Wie. U.S. captain Meg Mallon decided to put Wie out again on Saturday morning foursomes anchor match. And Wie delivered.
Saturday Morning Foursomes:
Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall def. Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda
2 and 1
In Friday's opening match, Nordqvist and Hedwall blew away Stacy Lewis and Lisette Salas, 4 and 2, while Pressel and Korda won their own Friday morning match. In a see-saw battle, the Americans double-bogeyed the 3rd to give "Team Sweden" a 1-up lead, although Nordqvist and Hedwall bogeyed the 5th to let go of the lead. The veteran Pressel and rookie Korda parred 10 and birdied 11 to get a 1-up lead, but the Swedes roared back with birdies at 14th and 16 to square the match, then go 1-up themselves.
Then at the 17th tee, Nordqvist lashed a 175-yard 7-iron directly at the flag. It bounced three times, rolled 12 inches, and dropped in for what is believed to be the first ace in Solheim Cup history.
With that 2 and 1 victory, Europe's lead was 6-3 and Hedwall was 3-0-0 this week.
Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer def. Azahara Muñoz and Karine Icher
Lewis had a very unbalanced Friday, so Meg Mallon decided to pair her with third-timer Paula Creamer. The result was dramatic, to say the least.
It was Creamer carrying most of the load; she drilled a long bomb at the 4th hole to get a 1-up lead, then curled in a 12-footer for a birdie at the 8th to go 2-up. Another Creamer birdie at the 9th boosted their lead to 3-up, then a costly bogey by Icher and Muñoz gave the Americans a 4-up lead.
Amazingly, Icher and Muñoz roared back thanks to a conceded bogey at the 11th, followed by three straight birdies at 12, 13, and 14. Creamer came to the rescue with another birdie at 16 to go 1-up, but at 17, Muñoz sank a birdie, while Creamer's own birdie try lipped out. The match was all-square for the third time, and this was only the second match of the week to make it to the 18th hole.
At 18, Icher's tee-shot flew into a left-side fairway bunker, then Muñoz hit into another fairway bunker on the left side. Icher's third flew straight into a yucca plant just above the face of the bunker, resulting in an unplayable lie. After Lewis's second fell into a delicate lie, Creamer wedged to the fringe. And when Muñoz's approach shot rolled off the front of the green, it was game over. Lewis and Creamer won 1-up, with Lewis getting her first point of the week.
Catriona Matthew and Carolina Masson vs. Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas
Playing in the third match of the morning for the second straight day, the veteran Matthew was paired with German rookie Masson for the first time. But it was the Americans who vaulted out to a lead with a birdie at the 2nd. But they couldn't get any more than 2-up, in part because the vet and the rookie won the 7th with a par, the 12th with a birdie, and the 17th with a par that won when Lincicome couldn't get her par-saver to fall. Then at 18, Matthew missed the fairway off the tee, but Masson laced one right at the flag, where it coasted to a stop five feet away. Salas pushed her birdie attempt to win, then Matthew calmly sank a six-footer to halve the match. Lincicome expressed understandable regret at the missed opportunity:
"I feel like I was not putting good. We had so many chances and Lizette played so good today, and just a couple of five-footers that needed to go in just didn't."
Michelle Wie and Brittany Lang def. Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari
2 and 1
The first half of this match was all Europe as Pettersen and Recari burst out to a 1-up lead, then birdied the 4th to go two up. But then Lang and Wie birdied 10, to get it back to 1-up. When Pettersen and Recari bogeyed 11, the match was all-square. Then Lang and Wie birdied 12 to take their first lead of the day. The Europeans squared it with a bird at 14, but then Pettersen couldn't get a par putt to fall at 17, while Wie got hers to go.
At the break on Saturday, Wie's Solheim Cup record as a captain's pick was 5-0-1. Wie was basically rock-star material — and the U.S. was within one point of Europe, poised to take the lead.
And then came a bizarre Saturday afternoon — and evening.
Saturday Afternoon Four-Balls:
Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Charley Hull def. Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson
For the second straight day, Thompson found herself in the middle of another frustrating rules situation — this time with Paula Creamer as her partner, facing two European rookies and their rookie caddies. As Creamer was standing over her putt for birdie at the 7th green, she was interrupted when one of the two European caddies called out, "it's good."
The problem for Team Europe was that caddies have no authority at all to concede a putt, per Rule 2-4. But had Creamer putted while not knowing that her opponent had conceded, Decision 2-4/6 would have penalized Creamer, because she had the same line-of-putt that Thompson was facing. Also, Decision 2-4/7 prohibits declining or withdrawing a concession.
Amazingly, the match referee then saw fit to interrupt Thompson while she was standing over her own par putt, just to clarify the ruling. Thankfully, Thompson's nerves held together and she sank the birdie putt to halve the hole.
And just as they did on Friday, fans in the gallery heckled the officials. One shouted, "Are you going to take 30 minutes for this one, too???"
That ridiculousness came in the middle of an amazing streak when either or both teams registered a birdie on every hole from the 4th to the 12th. The Europeans were leading 1-up at the 10th when Thompson stuck her approach shot to 12 inches, but Charley Hull made a birdie of her own to halve the hole. Creamer and Thompson squared it at 12 with a birdie, but Ewart-Shadoff got a conceded birdie at 14 to go 1-up again. At the long par-5 16th, Thompson's approach rolled off the back slope, through the front of the green, and into the cabbage, but Creamer sank her birdie putt after Hull missed hers, to square the match.
Then at the par-3 17th, Hull stuck her tee-shot to three feet for a birdie that gave her and Ewart-Shadoff a 1-up lead. At 18, Hull was in jail off to the right, but Ewart-Shadoff floated her approach to seven feet. When Creamer and Thompson couldn't find the green with their approach, they conceded Ewart-Shadoff's birdie.
Unbelievably, the interrupted putts at 7 were not the most egregious rules incident of Saturday.
Azahara Muñoz and Carlota Ciganda def. Gerina Pillar and Angela Stanford
Stanford and Pillar were paired together for the second straight afternoon in the second match. Unlike Friday, when they trailed all afternoon, Pillar and Stanford gained two leads, only to have the Spanish women square the match with birdies at 2 and 10.
Coming into Saturday afternoon, Stanford had not won a Solheim Cup match since going 1-2-1 at Rich Harvest Farms in 2009. Stanford's bad fortunes continued at the 15th hole, when her approach shot landed on the green, but scrolled off the front and rolled right into a lateral water hazard. Interestingly, Ciganda and Muñoz could not capitalize until the 18th green, when Ciganda sank a birdie putt to win it for Europe.
Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson def. Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda
2 & 1
Playing together for the second time this week, "Team Caroline" took two leads — the second lead stuck, when Masson birdied the 5th hole to go 1-up. Both teams played the next six holes in level par, but Masson birdied the 12th to go 2-up. Wie birdied the 14th to get the U.S. back to 1-down, while Hedwall couldn't get her own birdie putt to drop. But at the very next hole, Hedwall drained one to get the lead back to two.
At the par-5 16th, Wie and Korda did something very unsportsmanlike: They left the green after Wie sank a birdie putt. The problem was that Masson was still standing over her own putt for birdie. With Wie watching from up at the tee-box at the par-3 17th, Masson canned her birdie to halve the hole. Analyzing the matches for Golf Channel, World Golf HOF'er Judy Rankin exercised remarkable restraint in dressing down Wie and Korda on the air:
"That's not the kind of sportsmanship that you maybe want to teach your children."
At the par-3 17th, perhaps through a bit of divine providence, Wie dumped her tee-shot short and right into the rough, but Korda's effort filtered down to five feet. However, the Solheim Cup rookie couldn't get her birdie attempt to fall, while Hedwall had two putts from the front of the green to close out Wie and Korda. When Hedwall's birdie attempt finished less than two feet from the jar, the Americans conceded the par and the match. Wie had lost for the first time at Colorado Golf Club, while Hedwall's record this week surged to 4-0.
Beatriz Recari and Karine Icher def. Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel
This is the absolutely beautiful 16th hole at Colorado Golf Club — arguably one of best holes in the entire state of Colorado. Friday's 27-minute ruling delay occurred back at the 15th hole; Saturday's even longer rules filibuster occurred here at 16 after both Beatriz Recari and Cristie Kerr hit into the water hazard splitting the fairway at 6:19 p.m. MDT.
A 31-minute human rain delay then occurred over arguments about where each player's tee-shots crossed the line into the hazard. Both teams, their caddies, both team captains, several rules officials, and as many bystanders and observers as could be dragged kicking-and-screaming into the argument were dragged kicking-and-screaming into the argument — including one poor Golf Channel staffer on the course, who managed to get the best look at the ball-flights in question.
Some of the dramatis personæ (except the Golf Channel announcers) seemed oblivious to the fact that the sun was rapidly sinking over the Rocky Mountains. Finally, at 6:50 p.m. MDT, Kerr finally dropped her second and hit her third. Recari, still in the hazard, managed to lace a shot near the front of the green. Ultimately and obviously, neither Recari nor Kerr's play mattered at 16 because Morgan Pressel birdied the hole.
By the time everyone got to the 17th tee-box, the green had no direct sunlight. Only Kerr and Icher found the green. Recari's tee-shot bounced off a mound and into the front bunker, from which she took way too much time to hit her second shot, which ended up stuck in the rough above the top of the bunker. Her bump-and-run wedge finished about four feet from the jar. After that, Icher couldn't get her birdie putt to fall, so the match continued to the 18th.
By then, and rapidly losing daylight, Pressel found the fairway with her tee-shot, but a horribly bad bounce left her 52 yards behind Kerr's drive. And while Icher continued her excellent driving by finding the fairway, Recari dragged things out even longer by finding the front left fairway bunker with her drive, only managing to advance her hybrid second shot about 70 yards. Icher airmailed the green, but Kerr managed to hang on the back ledge.
And then at 7:39 p.m. MDT, almost seven hours into the afternoon session, amid the twilight's last gleaming, Icher holed a 45-foot bomb for birdie from off the green, igniting a boisterous explosion of European cheers and celebration.
The Europeans absolutely skunked the Americans in the afternoon, sweeping all four matches and giving themselves a seemingly insurmountable lead:
The last time a Solheim Cup was 10½ to 5½ after Saturday was in 1998, when Judy Rankin's American team cruised to a 16 to 12 victory at Muirfield Village outside Columbus, Ohio. If the U.S. team is to prevent their first Solheim Cup loss at home, they will need to win nine out of the 12 matches outright.
But given that the Solheim Cup rules officials have a habit of dragging out this week's on-course rules kerfuffles longer than a Stanley Cup playoff triple-overtime game, they might want to start these matches two hours before noon — while we're young.
Golf Channel's live coverage is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT.
Sunday Singles Matches
MATCH 17, 12:40 p.m.
Anna Nordqvist vs. Stacy Lewis
MATCH 18, 12:50 p.m.
(R) Charley Hull vs. Paula Creamer
MATCH 19, 1:00 p.m.
Azahara Muñoz vs. Brittany Lang
MATCH 20, 1:10 p.m.
(R) Carlota Ciganda vs. Morgan Pressel
MATCH 21, 1:20 p.m.
Caroline Hedwall vs. Michelle Wie
MATCH 22, 1:30 p.m.
Catriona Matthew vs. Gerina Pillar (R)
MATCH 23, 1:40 p.m.
Suzann Pettersen vs. Lizette Salas (R)
MATCH 24, 1:50 p.m.
(R) Giulia Sergas vs. Jessica Korda (R)
MATCH 25, 2:00 p.m.
(R) Caroline Masson vs. Lexi Thompson (R)
MATCH 26, 2:10 p.m.
(R) Jodi Ewart-Shadoff vs. Brittany Lincicome
MATCH 27, 2:20 p.m.
(R) Beatriz Recari vs. Angela Stanford
MATCH 28, 2:30 p.m.
Karine Icher vs. Cristie Kerr
Through Saturday, August 17
| Suzann Pettersen || 2-1-0 || 1-2-0 || Stacy Lewis |
| Catriona Matthew || 0-2-1 || 1-2-0 || Paula Creamer |
|(R) Carlota Ciganda || 2-0-0 || 1-2-0 || Cristie Kerr |
|(R) Caroline Masson || 2-0-1 || 0-3-0 || Angela Stanford |
|(R) Beatriz Recari || 2-1-0 || 1-0-1 || Brittany Lincicome |
| Anna Nordqvist || 2-1-0 || 0-2-0 || Lexi Thompson (R)|
| Karine Icher || 2-1-0 || 1-2-0 || Jessica Korda (R)|
| Azahara Muñoz || 2-1-0 || 2-1-0 || Brittany Lang |
| Caroline Hedwall || 4-0-0 || 0-1-1 || Lizette Salas (R)|
|(R) Jodi Ewart-Shadoff || 1-1-0 || 1-2-0 || Morgan Pressel |
|(R) Giulia Sergas || 0-1-0 || 0-2-0 || Gerina Piller (R)|
|(R) Charley Hull || 1-1-0 || 2-1-0 || Michelle Wie |
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Nice write-up, tireless work Tor. I wasnt planning on it but I got consumed with watching the fourball session yesterday. Since I don't really care for the US squad it was fun to watch the rank underdogs put the kibosh on all the US's contrived gloating and acting out. They are so bad they made a turncoat out of Bkuehn, and probably a lot of other Americans too. Really are a bunch of divas. Lewis, diva, Creamer, Kerr, Lincicome, Stanford, Pressel, Wie--all divas. They are all bluster and phony enthusiasm. OTOH the Euros seem to play with humility and genuine passion and their team play's much better. I hate to use the word but they are a classy squad.