In must-win situation, Creamer & Lewis deliver for U.S.
PARKER, Colo. – Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer simply had to put a point on the board. The Americans couldn’t expect to keep their home-soil streak alive with their two best players in the O-fer column. On Saturday morning, Creamer and Lewis paired together and got it done.
A sloppy finish by the Europeans on the 18th hole gave Lewis and Creamer their first point, pumping the American team’s psyche and settling a personal score.
Maybe Lewis needed a little controversy to thrive. She got it in spades on Day 1 when tournament officials admitted to handing out an improper ruling to the European Team, giving Carlota Ciganda a favorable drop and killing any momentum the U.S. had built with a 25-minute delay.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night,” said Lewis.
Lewis received a late penalty in Phoenix last spring (for her caddie testing the sand in a bunker) and came out on Sunday and not only won the tournament, but overtook Yani Tseng as the No. 1 player in the world. That same fire burned on Day 2 of the Solheim Cup, when a highly motivated Lewis marched around Colorado Golf Club with their hands in the air, prompting U.S. fans to get loud.
Lewis and Creamer asked Meg Mallon to pair them together and they got their wish, squaring off against Karine Icher and Azahara Munoz, the same duo that took down Creamer and Cristie Kerr in Day 1 foursomes.
The Americans started out gangbusters, building a 4-up lead through 10 holes.
But after Munoz hit her tee shot on the 11th, European assistant captain Annika Sorenstam put her hands on the Spaniard’s shoulders, looked her in the eye and said, “What’s done is done. You girls can win this.”
From there, the Euros won the next four holes, three with birdies and walked to the 15th tee all square.
Lewis, back where controversy swirled the previous day, hoped they’d finish the hole in under 25 minutes.
“I was hitting the approach shots for the next four holes,” Lewis said. “So I had time to redeem myself.”
Lewis hit a solid wedge into the 15th green and when Creamer nailed the putt for birdie, she took a powerful stance and let out a mighty roar. They were back in control, 1 up with three to play.
But the Euros wouldn’t back down. On the par-5 16th, Munoz struck first with a 12-foot birdie putt, only to watch Lewis roll one in right on top of her.
It was a learning day for Lewis, who said Creamer told her before the match that she was trying too hard on Friday, not staying in the moment and in control.
“I think I’m still learning how to play these matches,” Lewis said, “how to play with a partner.”
On the par-3 17th, Lewis hit her tee shot to the right side the green and watched it stop 5 feet from the hole. But while it looked like the Americans were going to put away the Euros, once again they struck first, with Icher draining a 10-foot birdie putt to make Creamer’s a must make.
The Solheim sweetheart missed left, taking the match to 18 all square.
Icher put her tee shot in the left fairway bunker while Creamer found the short grass. Munoz compounded the error by leaving the European’s second shot in a bunker farther up the fairway. Lewis hit a low hooking 4-iron to the left of the green, under a tree, but it was nothing compared to Icher leaving their third shot in a Yucca plant.
The Euros took a penalty for an unplayable and then left their fifth shot short of the green. Creamer chipped up, and the Euros conceded the match after hitting sixth shot well past the hole.
Aside from the abysmal finish, it was a tremendous display of golf. Lewis and Creamer combined for six birdies on the day in alternate shot and the Europeans birdied five out of six holes on the back nine.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” said Lewis.
Creamer said after the match she felt like she’d lost her voice.
Lewis improved her overall Solheim record to 2-5-0, a surprisingly poor stat for such a talented player. That being said, she’s still relatively young in this competition and has been honest about her learning curve.
“Truthfully I don’t care what my record is if the team wins,” Lewis said.
Suffice to say they can’t win without her.