Europe reclaims Cup with dramatic win over U.S.
After the Europeans had won the 12th Solheim Cup 15-13, they took the poster of Seve Ballesteros which had been in their locker room down to the 18th green. They wanted everyone to know the extent to which the Spaniard had been their inspiration.
The Americans, meanwhile, were still ruing what had been a wretched start to their day. Instead of having 12 players up and running, they were down a woman after Cristie Kerr got no further than the practice ground.
Kerr, a dogged little performer if ever there were one, had tendinitis in her right wrist, which had first manifested itself Wednesday. She answered Rosie Jones' call to play in all four matches over the first two days and, on Friday night, took anti-inflammatory tablets to ensure she would have no trouble playing one more time.
Instead, when she tried her first shots, the 33-year-old American was unable to take the club back. Eventually, she managed something akin to a full swing but it was too painful to repeat. At that, she knew her fate.
Karen Stupples, who had been waiting for her down on the first tee, was awarded the match when her opponent did not turn up after five minutes.
Short-term, Jones' decision to play Kerr in all four matches seemed like a good one as the Americans came back from 5-7 at lunch Friday to bed down at 8-8.
But, by the time the scoreboard had been changed to read Europe 9, America 8 so early Sunday, she was the first to say she had done the wrong thing.
Though the rain intervened and play was twice suspended because of water on the greens, Catriona Matthew gave Europe a 10-8 lead as she defeated Paula Creamer by 6 and 5.
Matthew and Creamer are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Scot looks neither up nor down, whatever the state of the poll. Creamer, in turn, comes across as every inch a performer. As a child, she used to do ballet and her father thought it a complete waste of time until he realized that it had given her a confidence and presence on the golf course that she might never have had otherwise.
But Creamer, unlike Matthew, was not used to performing in the conditions. Out in a 35 against the par of 36 to be four up, Matthew needed only four more holes to put her opponent away. "I was determined not to let Paula get a sniff at a comeback," she said. "… I knew she'd be out there trying her hardest."
This was Matthew's fifth consecutive Solheim Cup singles win.
Sofie Gustafson, who was among those to celebrate with a pint of Guinness, hit the perfect gap wedge to five feet to pave the way for what was her fourth point out of four giving Europe an 11-8 lead, but an American comeback was underway.
Brittany Lang brought home the first U.S. point with a 6 and 5 win over Sandra Gal. After playing poorly on the first two days -- three losses out of three -- Lang was determined to make things right in singles. "I'm just happy to get a point for my team after letting them down a bit before," she said.
Next came Morgan Pressel who, though she hails from Florida, was seemingly oblivious to conditions as she won by 2 and 1 against Sweden's Anna Nordqvist. She was level par for the 17 holes, while she, like Gustafson, was celebrating four points out of four.
With the overall score 11-10 in Europe's favor, there was a third suspension of play due to the weather.
Though there was neither thunder nor lightning, there was still plenty of electricity in the air when the players returned.
There was one irresistible match between Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie, which Pettersen managed to win with three birdies in a row. Things then swayed one way and the other before Azahara Munoz left the 17th green with a one-hole lead. At this stage, if Caroline Hedwall could scrape a half from her game with Ryann O'Toole, the match belonged to Europe.
Hedwell had got down in two from off the green at the penultimate hole to be down one, but hit a second which rolled down to within three feet of the hole for a likely birdie. O'Toole, though she had been one of the stars of the week, could not come close to matching it. She knocked her ball into the crowd before leaving a duffed third shot still short of the green.
With that, the victory was in the books for the Europeans.
"It was unbelievable," said Alison Nicholas, the European captain. "There are no words to describe how close it all was. The drama was amazing."