The United States won three of four Saturday morning foursomes matches played in sunny, cool conditions Sept. 21, and held a 7-5 lead after three sessions.
The most star-studded match was the third, in which Americans Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster beat Paula Marti and Laura Davies, 2 and 1. Europe was 1 up through 13 holes, but Inkster hit her tee shot on the par-3 14th to a foot for a gimme birdie. Marti’s 20-foot birdie attempt missed on the low side and the match was all square.
Mallon hit a wayward tee shot on No. 15, but Inkster hit the approach from an awkward stance over a tree to 18 feet and the hole was halved with pars. Europe handed the match to the United States on No. 17 when Davies hit the approach into the right greenside bunker. Marti sculled the bunker shot over the green and the match was conceded. It was Inkster’s first point of the Cup after going 0-2 the previous day.
“That’s the way to play,” Mallon said. “You try to give your partner a chance at a putt, and Juli and I did a really good job of that today.”
Europe’s unbeatable Swedish duo of Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch jumped out to a commanding lead in the opening match and were 4 up after six holes. Cristie Kerr and Michele Redman played poorly in the opening stretch and made three consecutive bogeys (Nos. 4-6). On the back side, the United States made three birdies (Nos. 10, 14 and 15), but all three holes were halved, deflating any hopes of a comeback.
“We know each other well and we’re having a great time,” said Koch, who remained undefeated in Solheim play at 6-0. “And she never misses.”
Europe’s Iben Tinning and Mhairi McKay played Emilee Klein and Wendy Ward in the all-rookie second match. Klein and Ward – teammates at Arizona State in the mid-1990s – were 2 up after four holes but lost three of the next five holes, two by making bogeys. However, they rebounded with consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 to put the match out of reach.
“The rookies don’t know we stink in this (foursomes) format,” Inkster joked.
Laura Diaz and Kelly Robbins were mediocre in the final match, but it was enough to beat Europe’s Helen Alfredsson and Suzann Pettersen, 3 and 1. The United States had no birdies, but Europe made eight bogeys.
– Jay A. Coffin