Who knows what European captain Dale Reid had in mind, but sending out Spaniard Raquel Carriedo in the opening singles match, particularly against reigning U.S. Open champion Juli Inkster, was viewed by many as sending a lamb to slaughter.
Carriedo played valiantly, but lost 4 and 3 to set a losing trend that would plague the Europeans all day. Paula Marti got waxed, 5 and 3, by Laura Diaz in the second match, and Helen Alfredsson lost, 2 and 1, to Emilee Klein in the third.
In team competition, there is an old saying assoc-iated with singles play: As the early matches go, so goes the team. Europe definitely followed this pattern. Reid, saving her strongest players for later in the draw, sacrificed the lead her team had established after two days. She never would get it back.
Buoyed by their early success, the Americans seemed to be on the attack all day. The mood among the Europeans remained somber.
Although Suzann Pettersen of Norway staged a remarkable comeback against Michele Redman – winning the last five holes, three of them with birdies, to tie that match – the European team gave a half-point right back when world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam of Sweden could do no better than a tie against Wendy Ward, ranked No. 35.
Ward’s performance gave the Americans a tremendous boost, and Rosie Jones, 2 down early in her match, rallied for a 3-and-2 victory over Karine Icher.
Meanwhile, tougher-than-nails Meg Mallon lost none of the first 13 holes to the long-hitting Laura Davies, building a 5-up lead that eventually became a 3-and-2 victory. With Europe’s top two players, Sorenstam and Davies, earning only a combined half-point in singles play, the Europeans were doomed.
The two U.S. captain’s picks, Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst, each won in singles. For Hurst, it was her first point of the week.
Meanwhile, Reid’s four picks faltered badly and failed to justify their selection on the final day. They finished 0-3-1 in singles, which had to be a dramatic disappointment.