Solheim Cup: U.S., Europe tied after foursomes
Friday, September 23, 2011
DUNSANY, Ireland - If momentum plays a part in winning Solheim Cups, then the United States should go on to win the 12th version of the biennial match.
For the first time in Solheim Cup history, the opening session was halved, but the U.S. will view it as a win. It could turn out to be a huge psychological advantage for the Americans.
Solheim Cup 2011: Day 1 in pictures
Check out player and fan images from Day 1 in Ireland.
Europe should have won the first foursome session at least 2.5–1.5, if not 3-1. A spectacular collapse from the third European pairing of Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid allowed the U.S. to finish on level terms with the Europeans.
With the score standing at one point apiece with two matches finished, Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome somehow defeated the European duo even though they didn’t look like getting anything out of the match.
The English pair was 2 up with five to play, and still 1 up with two to play. However, they butchered the last two holes to gift Creamer and Lincicome a point.
Poor driving cost the Europeans dearly over the last two holes. Reid missed the fairway at 17 and a double bogey ensued. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a comedy of errors ensued at the 18th, only the European pair weren’t laughing.
Stupples was unlucky when her tee shot on the final hole just finished in the rough. More bad luck followed when the ball dived into a deep, clingy lie. Reid couldn’t get the ball on the green from 130 yards and landed the ball short. Stupples then duffed her chip onto the bank of a greenside bunker, leaving Reid a horrible lie. She then thinned her chip over the back of the green.
How bad was it? The U.S. pair was looking at making a bogey, but didn’t have to finish the hole. Stupples chipped Europe’s fifth shot off the green and the Europeans conceded.
Thankfully for the English pair, Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen birdied the 18th hole to defeat Juli Inkster and Brittany Lang. No wonder European captain Alison Nicholas bolted from her cart, fist-pumping in celebration. She went from thinking she was going to have the lead to being thankful to finish level.
However, it was U.S. captain Rosie Jones who was the happier of the two skippers.
“Once you get some momentum going it can really fall apart for the other team and that’s what happened today,” Jones said.
A typical dull, chilly autumn day in Ireland couldn’t dampen the fans’ ardour. The stands beside the first tee were packed with fans from both sides chanting for their teams. However, the U.S. gave their fans more to shout about on the opening hole.
The pairings of Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr and Creamer and Lincicome took the opening hole. Wie and Kerr took full advantage. They were 3 under for the 17 holes to defeat Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist, 2 and 1.
Catriona Matthew and Azahara Munoz were never behind against Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford. The European pair raced to a 3-up lead after five holes and never looked back, winning 3 and 2. They were level par for their 16 holes, which usually gets the job done in the Solheim Cup. Expect that pairing to see more foursomes action tomorrow.
“Playing with Catriona was awesome because she keeps her emotions very quiet and that helped me,” Munoz said.
Matthew was just as complimentary of her younger partner.
“You’d never have known it was her first Solheim Cup,” Matthew said. “We kept it pretty steady on the greens and that was all we had to do today.”
Stupples and Reid couldn't keep themselves steady over the last two holes, or it could have been a very encouraging start to Europe’s attempt to win the cup for the first time since 2003.
Make no mistake, it’s advantage USA.