The bad light couldn't have come soon enough for the USA team here in Germany. The afternoon fourballs on day one of the Solheim cup could prove to be pivotal in Europe's quest to retain the cup. A USA failure would mean a long 6 year period without taking the trophy home. This was unthinkable 6 years ago when American dominance of this bi-annual match play event was a easy bet. Europe would be the occasional thorn in their side but it was rare. Now it appears the tables have turned.
The day stated well for the USA team. Juli Inkster placed a lot of importance on her captain's pick, Paula Creamer. The morning play followed the foursome format. Each player would take alternate shots.The faith was swiftly rewarded as Mogan Pressel and Paula Creamer dispatched the Europeans duo of Suzann Petterson and Anna Norqvist, 3&2. First blood to the Americans. However, there wouldn't be too much to celebrate for the rest of the day. America would gain their second morning point as Kerr and Thompson claimed a 2&1 victory in match 3 against Icher and Munoz.
Then it all stated terribly wrong for Team USA. The British partnership of Charley Hull and Melissa Reid won their match 2&1. The Kettering teenager proving that her performance in Colorado two years ago was no fluke. Sandra Gal (playing on home turf for this Solheim Cup) and Catrina Matthew heaped more pressure on Stacey Lewis's miserable Solheim record with a convincing 3&2 win.
As the morning ended the teams were locked at 2-2. Inkster's Captain's pick was proving to be an inspired pick considering her form on the LPGA. If Pressel and Creamer can do it again then it could place the U.S in an advantageous position for day 2. But they couldn't and the day started to fall apart for the U.S. Team.
Europe quickly dispatched Pressel and Creamer by hole 15 and this lead to a stinker of an afternoon. Team Europe continued as Charley Hull's putt on the 16th sealed another point. 2-2 quickly became 4-2 in favour of Europe. Bad light as the day came to a end ensured that the score stayed that way but if anything...it was just what the Americans needed.
Prior to the bad light the German pairing of Caroline Masson and Sandra Gal were 1 hole up before an amicable decision was made to halt play. Team USA will be hoping to overturn this one in the morning. In match 8 the Europeans overturned a 2 hole U.S to take what should have be an easy U.S win to an all square match. Cigarida's sensational eagle on the 17th squared the match up and a now riled Thompson and Kerr opted to end the match on the 17th green whilst the Europeans were waiting on the 18th tee. This was a wise move considering that Europe was high on confidence and the U.S simply weren't.
These two matches and these decisions could already make or break the Solheim Cup for the U.S. Lose them and it's 6-2 in favour of Europe. Win them and it's 4-4. Bad light could have just saved the Americans. I have a feeling Team Europe will sleep a lot better than Team U.S.A tonight.
Today was clearly a tale of two sessions here at the Solheim Cup at St Leon-Rots Golf Club in Germany. Europe dominated the morning foursomes extending their lead to 8-4 over the USA. The lead did flatter the Europeans as Charley Hull and Suzann Petterson pulled off a miraculous 1 hole victory against Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer.
Pressel and Creamer were 4 holes up after the 11th hole before the Europeans fought back for an unlikely win. Birdies on the 12th and the final 4 holes turned around a possible defeat. As Suzann Petterson birdied the 18th the crowd erupted much to the shock of the USA fans. The putt was the icing on the cake to a superb morning performance by Team Europe. Taking the session 3-1 and an overall lead of 8-4.
It is all too easy to imagine the USA team talk from Juli Inkster. The USA could have ended the day with too much to do in the Sunday Singles to have a realistic chance of taking the Cup back to the States. Rather than denting their confidence, the U.S came out fighting in the afternoon foursomes.
Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr easily dispatched Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz, 3&2, to secure what would be the only confirmed point in the Afternoon session. The score may be good reading for the Europeans for now but matches will need to be completed tomorrow morning before the Singles.
As it stands the U.S may have matched the European morning score and could win the session 3-1 if results stand in the way they currently are. The U.S pairing of Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome are currently 1 up against Charley Hull and Suzann Petterson with 3 Holes to go. The pairing of Lewis and Piller as currently lead by 1 up against Masson and Hedwall with only 2 Holes to go. European pairing of Matthew and Icher lead by 1 in their match against Salas and Lang.
The U.S will be hoping to keep what they have when play resumes. If it does then Europe could enter the Sunday Singles with a slender 9-7 lead with 12 points to play for. This could go all the way. Whoever said Golf was boring...has never to the Solheim Cup before.
The atmosphere was electric today and will be even more so tomorrow. Golfhacker even made a couple of friends today. As promised guys...here's the picture. Thanks for the German hospitality...which involved a beer or four, of course. Great sharing the morning golf with you.
Charley Hull and Suzann Petterson overturned the overnight deficit against Lee and Lincicome in controversial style to win 2 up (more on that later). Making the score 10-6 before the Sunday singles. Unlike the first day where play was stopped due to bad light, the Americans failed to gain their overnight advantage in the four balls on day two.
Europe enter the singles with an extra point to lead 10-6 rather the projected 9-7 creating a 4 point lead over the USA. The USA will need to win 8and a half of the 12 singles matches in order to win the Solheim cup outright. Although highly improbable it's not impossible. Just ask the Men's european Ryder cup winning team in Medinah. However, this Solheim cup is Europe's to lose.
With the pro European audience on their side the first tee created an intimidating opening tee shot. A cauldron of cheers with shouts of "let's go Europe, let's go" being far louder than "USA, USA, USA". Practice swings were cheered with a "way" yet this electric atmosphere was replaced with sheer respect as Lexi Thompson and Ciganda played their first shots. The crowds today will almost certainly be Europe's 13th man in scenes more reminiscent of football than golf. As the Solheim hits it's 25th year, it's creator John Solheim can certainly be proud of what this tournament and women's golf as a whole has accomplished.
The first few games of the Singles would be pivotal in this competition. If Europe were to win the first five then it would be all over. The first match up between Lexi Thompson and Carlota Ciganda produced a stand out match. Thompson led then Ciganda bravely fought back by narrowly missing her putt on the 17th to go one up. All square by the final hole. Lexi's drive on the 18th may have missed the bunker but left an awkward 2nd shot, whilst Ciganda nailed her tee shot on the fairway.
Morgan Pressel looked comfortable sealing a birdie putt on the 15th to go 2 up against Catrina Matthew only for Matthew to regain on the 16th to cut the lead to 1 up in favour of the American. Tense stuff indeed in the opening two games. Pressel's putt to win the match narrowly missing.
The first point of the day went to Europe as Icher soundly beat Lincicome 3&2. The French women produced a consistent round of golf from the start with Lincicome never looking like winning. Europe lead 11-6.
Back on the 18th green Lexi Thompson missed her par putt allowing Ciganda to putt for what would be a massive comeback and a massive USA setback. She missed. Match all square. Europe 11.5 USA 6.5.
Matthew and Pressel were now both on the 18th green. Both had birdie putts. It would either be an all square match or an American win. Pressel's putt strayed long and left of the hole. Matthew had a chance to gain half a point for Europe. No pressure then for the veteran Scot. Pressure that she couldn't handle. Victory for Pressel.
With the score at 11.5 to 7.5 it would be assumed that Europe was coasting to a easy victory. However USA were up in 7 of the remaining matches. Melissa Reid helped to put pressure on the remaining games with another point earned for Team Europe. The lead now extended to 12.5 to 7.5 in Europe's favour. If scores stayed the same in the remaining games, the USA would steal the cup but 1 point. Things are getting tense here at St Leon-rot.
Someone from Europe had to make a push. It wouldn't be Caroline Hedwall who was soundly beaten by Michelle Wie, 6&4. It also wouldn't be the German, Caroline Masson, who lost to Gerina Piller. With matches and holes running out Cristie Kerr made it another resounding win for the Americans dispatching Charley Hull. USA one point behind and winning in the remaining two. The unlikely come back was no longer a pipe dream as Juli Inkster's team were running riot on St Leon-rot. All of sudden the cheers of "Let's go Europe" were replaced by the American fans finding their voice.
One such fan was everywhere I looked. Running from hole to hole cheering on his team. One moment you wouldn't see him, next moment there he was "Come on Cristie! USA USA", as he ran towards the match. He wouldn't stop there before running to the adjacent tee box. "Come on Angela, you can do this! USA USA". His voice was one you heard all over the course. In a pro European venue the USA had found their cheerleader as he roused the others. The next Captain should find this amazingly vocal man and hire him for the next Solheim Cup.
All Angela Stanford had to do was to match Suzann Petterson shot for shot on the 17th to seal her point. "Come on Angela! You rock!", looks like our America friend is back. She did, mission accomplished. 13.5 points each with one more match playing. I then saw Team USA's number one fan ask what hole Paula Creamer was on before he ran to the 15th.
Perhaps it's fitting that the winning point came from Paula Creamer, the controversial Captan's Pick. Her form of late has been questionable enough to leave many scratching their heads at her inclusion. Inkster claimed that she was no mascot here to make up the numbers, she is here to play, and play she did. Her victory over Germany's Sandra Gal at the 15th hole empathised the level of victory. From nowhere, after being beaten on Day's One and Two, the USA had proved the doubters wrong. Much in the same way Paula Creamer has. The Golfing saints were looking down at the USA at the Solheim.
Performance of the day has to go to the USA rookie, Alison Lee. Her morning fourball was an emotional one following picking up the ball (a clear gimme) before Suzann Petterson and Charley Hull had conceded the hole. This meant that she had lost the hole for her team. The controversy of the situation will be long discussed. Many will think it was unfair but regardless, you have to admire Lee for composing herself to regain the mental strength to go on and win her singles match. Golfhacker salutes you Alison Lee.
For Juli Inkster ad the USA team this is up there with the "Miracle at Medinah" and with that Captain's performance she'll be heralded as the "Genius in Germany". For Carin Koch it will be a case of so close, yet so far, as her European team had no answers on the Final day. "Woo hoo, in your face Europe, USA, USA, USA, what a comeback. Woo!", looks like our American friend will be partying all night.