On Saturday morning, Team USA went 2-1-1 to get within one point of Team Europe, who led 6½ to 5½ at the break. But the Europeans absolutely blew away the American women in the afternoon, taking all four matches and giving themselves a monumental lead:
So, when Sweden's Anna Nordqvist and American Stacy Lewis teed off during the noon hour in Parker, Colorado, Nordqvist and her teammates needed just 3½ more points to keep the Solheim Cup — and to win it on the road for the first time ever.
The stands at Colorado Golf Club were full — and they were full early, with the noise being generated fairly equally by fans of both teams. And regardless of the Americans' slim chance of reaching 14½ points to take back the Solheim Cup, the drama was still unmistakable.
Sunday Singles MatchesIn the order of finish:
(R) Charley Hull def. Paula Creamer
5 & 4
The 17-year-old Hull, just six months into her professional career, was facing Paula Creamer — obviously one of the most prominent women in the game. Hull bogeyed the 2nd to give Creamer a 1-up lead, but Creamer bogeyed the 3rd hole to Hull's birdie.
Creamer never got close in the match again.
At the par-3 6th, Hull drilled a long bomb for birdie to go 1-up. At 7, Hull lashed a long drive, leaving her just 157 yards from the jar — and stuck her approach shot to six feet. The resulting birdie gave her a 2-up lead. At 9, Creamer was short of the green, blew her par putt four feet past the hole, then missed her comeback to save bogey. Hull's par put her 3-up. At 11, Hull's 50-foot birdie putt finished just six inches away, but Creamer's par putt to salvage a halve missed. Hull was 4-up. At 12, Creamer just avoided the greenside bunker with her approach, but left it in deep rough. Hull hit a lovely wedge to 10 inches, and when Creamer couldn't sink a putt from a mile away, Hull was 5-up.
At 3:35 p.m. MDT, facing elimination, Creamer dramatically holed her bunker shot at 13 to stay alive. However, Hull holed her par putt to go dormie on Creamer. At 14, Creamer was short of the green. Hull's eagle putt finished 15 feet away, and Creamer conceded her par. But Creamer's own 10-footer for birdie missed left.
At 3:49 p.m. MDT, the 17-year-old rookie had finished off the five-time Solheim Cup veteran, 5 & 4, putting Europe up 11½ to 5½.
Anna Nordqvist vs. Stacy Lewis
This writer felt that the first match of the afternoon was likely to be a tight one — and it was. The Swede birdied the 3rd hole to go 1-up, then birdied the par-3 6th to go 2-up. But Lewis got one back at the 7th by draining a 10-footer from the front right portion of the green. Both players were short of the green at 8 and bogeyed. Then at 9, Lewis just missed a 30-footer to birdie and win the hole, but at 10, her conceded par squared the match. At 11, Lewis burned the edge of the hole twice, putting Nordqvist 1-up again.
At the drive-able 14th, Lewis used a hybrid to hit a very narrow spot on the green, then left her eagle putt just two feet away. When Nordqvist missed her own birdie, she insisted that Lewis putt her two-footer — which Lewis sank to go 1-up for the first time in the match.
At the par-3 17th, where Nordqvist aced on Saturday morning, she put her tee-shot to the back right portion of the green, which filtered down to about 25 feet. Then she dramatically sank that 25-footer for birdie to square the match. At 18, Lewis split the fairway, but then pushed her approach shot into the right rough. After barely missing a fairway bunker off the tee, Nordqvist pitched to six feet, but it filtered to about 30 feet. Lewis conceded her par. After pitching from below the green, Lewis sank a curving six-footer to get the U.S. a badly-needed ½-point.
At 4:30 p.m. MDT, Europe led the U.S. 12 to 6.
(R) Carlota Ciganda def. Morgan Pressel
4 & 2
Many viewers expected Pressel to win this match, especially since she was facing the rookie Ciganda. But Ciganda drained a long bomb for birdie at the 2nd. Pressel countered with a birdie at the 3rd, but when Pressel couldn't par the 9th, Ciganda calmly sank a four-footer for par to go 1-up. A six-foot birdie at 13 boosted her to 2-up. At 15, Pressel couldn't sink her birdie putt, but Ciganda sank hers following an excellent 2nd shot — Ciganda went 3-up to go dormie on Pressel at 4:43 p.m. MDT. And on 16, when Pressel couldn't sink a 40-footer to stay alive, Ciganda notched her third win of the week, defeating Pressel 4 & 2.
At 5:01 p.m. MDT, Europe's lead became 13 to 6 — with only one more full point needed to retain the Cup.
Brittany Lang def. Azahara Muñoz
2 & 1
Muñoz birdied the 2nd to go 1-up, but Lang survived the par-4 3rd with a bogey, to Muñoz's double, squaring the match. Lang surged to 2-up with birds at 5 and 6, but then sputtered with bogeys at 7 and 8 to let the match get squared again.
Still, Lang kept up the pressure. After Muñoz missed a par putt at 9, Lang birdied to go 1-up. At 11, Lang sank an eight-footer to go 2-up. Then at 12, Lang sank a gorgeous 15-foot birdie to go 3-up. Muñoz's three-footer for par at 13 got her back to 2-down, then a 15-footer for birdie at the difficult 15th got her to 1-down.
But at 16, Muñoz's birdie try finished just two inches from the edge. Moments later, Lang smoothly drained her own four-footer for birdie and a 2-up lead that she never relinquished.
At 5:05 p.m. MDT, Lang ran home her three-footer to win the match, but the U.S. still trailed Europe, 13 to 7.
Caroline Hedwall def.
The other marquee match-up on Sunday featured two captain's picks: Hedwall and Wie both made their captains look good by playing better than most people expected all week — and their Sunday match was even better than advertised.
Hedwall won the 3rd hole when Wie chipped across the green and made a mess. But at 8, it was Hedwall bogeying, while Wie stroked home a five-footer to square the match. At 9, Wie only needed to get up-and-down, but when she wedged to just 18 inches away, her conceded par gave her a 1-up lead at the turn.
Hedwall squared the match at 13 when Wie missed a five-foot birdie, while Hedwall canned hers to go 1-up. But at 15, Hedwall dumped her approach in a right-side bunker, while Wie stuck her own to eight feet. Hedwall's par putt missed on the left edge, putting Wie 1-up with three to play.
At 16, Hedwall nearly holed her wedge-third, leaving it five feet away. From about six feet, Wie's birdie putt simply would not fall. Hedwall drained her own birdie to go all-square. At 5:12 p.m. MDT, Hedwall vs. Wie was appearing to be the deciding match.
At 17, Hedwall hit to the back fringe, while Wie initially found the back of the green, but the ball's sideways momentum carried it several feet into the fringe.
Then at 5:18 p.m. MDT, when American Lizette Salas was pulling back her putter on a 17-foot birdie attempt on the 15th green, officials sounded the weather horns because lightning was striking near the course. Salas did very well to not actually hit the putt. The storm skirted Colorado Golf Club, allowing officials to restart play at 6:15 p.m. MDT.
Back at 17, Hedwall just missed her long (and long-delayed) birdie attempt, while Wie's attempt to go 1-up missed by a couple of inches on the left side.
At 18, Wie outdrove Hedwall by about ten yards, but at 6:25 p.m. MDT, Hedwall lashed her second directly at the flag, where it finished a mere three feet beyond the flagstick. Wie's approach finished about 20 feet to the left. Wie slowly and carefully sent her slippery birdie attempt downhill... and missed only by about three inches on the right.
At exactly 6:30 p.m. MDT, Hedwall pipelined her birdie putt into the center of the jar. It was Europe 14, the United States 7 — they had retained the Solheim Cup. Minutes later in a televised interview, the wild-card pick reacted:
"I'm still shaking. There are no words, to be honest."
After that, it was merely academic. When Karine Icher and Cristie Kerr agreed to halve their match at the 18th green, the final score was:
Neither the Solheim Cup nor the Ryder Cup have a Conn Smythe Trophy equivalent, but if one existed, it would have to go to Caroline Hedwall. She made golf history by being the first woman to go 5-0-0 in the Solheim Cup. And when her singles match was all-square in the 18th fairway, with intense pressure and anticipation palpable, Hedwall delivered the second- or third-best shot of the week.
Her teammates also made golf history by winning the Solheim Cup on American soil for the first time ever — and with six rookies, who went an eye-popping 12-6-3!
Golf Channel's Kay Cockerill noted that Spain had three players at the 1987 Ryder Cup when Team Europe won for the first time on U.S. soil. This week, Team Europe had three Spanish women: Carlota Ciganda, Beatriz Recari, and Azahara Muñoz. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how many German teammates Caroline Masson will have in 2015, when the Solheim Cup Matches are held at Golf Club Sankt Leon-Rot, just south of Heidelberg.
Read an interesting golf article? Tip your editor!
Image via SolheimCup.com
Besides myself I think bkuehn was the only other oober interested in this event. You guys missed out, it was some of the best womens golf action you will see. Shame on the US "girls gone wild" for putting on such a display of questionable sportsmanship, immature comportment and worst of all piteous putting. Kudos to the Euros for their overall professionalism and heart and deadeye putting, to Caroline Hedwall for her gamer spirit and praise to their captain Neumann for putting Charley Hull on the team. That was the bright spot of this event. Her routing Paula 5&4 has got to be one of the hi-lites of the golf year.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Beef's right: Hull didn't just score an upset victory over a seasoned and talented veteran, she stared her down without so much as a "how do you do." Another rookie, Carlota Ciganda, took down a four-time Solheim Cup participant, Morgan Pressel.
If you didn't watch, you missed out!