Europe seize commanding 5-point Solheim Cup lead
AFPPARKER, Colorado -- Europe swept the afternoon fourball matches to seize a five-point lead over the United States Saturday and stand poised to retain their Solheim Cup golf crown.
August 19, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The European women, who have never won the Trans-Atlantic match play showdown on U.S. soil, take a 10.5 to 5.5 lead into Sunday's 12 concluding singles matches.
No team has come back from more than a two-point deficit to win on Sunday.
France's Karine Icher finished off a perfect Saturday afternoon for Europe when she rolled in a birdie putt from several feet off the green as darkness was falling at the 18th hole of the Colorado Golf Club.
That gave her and Spain's Beatriz Recari a 1 up victory over Americans Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel.
In other fourball matches, rookies Jodi Shadoff and Charley Hull defeated Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson 2 up, Spain's Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda defeated Gerina Piller and Angela Stanford 1 up and Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson beat Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda 2 and 1.
Anna Nordqvist had got what proved to be a big day for Europe off to a flying start when she aced the 17th hole to seal a European win in the day's opening foursomes match.
Nordqvist's hole-in-one on the par-three 17th was thought to be the first in Solheim cup history and sealed a 2 and 1 win for her and fellow Swede Hedwall over Pressel and Korda.
“I don't think it has hit me yet,” said Nordqvist. “It was a really good shot, going straight at it. We thought it was — it might be a little long, but it pitched and hit, and it's just an unbelievable feeling.”
But the Americans won two of the morning's four foursomes matches and halved another leaving defending champions Europe ahead 6.5 to 5.5 at mid-day.
Americans Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer defeated Munoz and Icher 1 up in a sensational match that produced 12 birdies.
The Europeans enjoyed one stretch of five birdies in six holes, but botched the final hole as the United States grabbed the point with a birdie.
“It was an emotional roller coaster, really,” said Lewis. “We were talking up 18 and I kind of looked at a watch and I said, gosh, I feel like we have been out here forever. We have just been battling back and forth, the highs and lows of it. It was fun though.”
U.S. captain Meg Mallon admitted the shifts in momentum in the match — and the morning as a whole — were nerve wracking as well as exhilarating.
“I'm standing on the 17th tee watching Anna Nordqvist's ball go in the hole, then to have us finish the matches the way we did was just a great turnaround for us,” Mallon said.
Europe, who won the trophy in 2011 in Ireland, had taken a 5-3 lead on the opening day.