Solheim Cup: Team USA battles elements to take edge into Sunday singles

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Solheim Cup: Team USA battles elements to take edge into Sunday singles

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Solheim Cup: Team USA battles elements to take edge into Sunday singles

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland – So much for cold weather and strong winds favoring the home team in this Solheim Cup. Juli Inkster’s side proved they can handle adverse conditions, too.

Strong winds and brisk temperatures should have favored Europe, but the visitors took the afternoon fourball session by 2½ points to 1½ to go into Sunday tied 8-8.

With winds gusting above 40 mph – the highest gust was 44 mph – and temperatures in the mid 50s, players wrapped up in three layers. Lizette Salas wore ear muffs, and donned a parka between shots. She looked like she was about to climb onto a snowmobile, not a tee box.

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How bad was it?

“What you saw out there – brutal,” said Lexi Thompson, who teamed with Marina Alex to come from one down after 15 holes to earn a half point against Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson.

Alex is making her Solheim Cup debut. She birdied the 16th to get the U.S. tandem back to all square.

“It’s such a grind,” she said. “The margin for error becomes so small at that point because you miss-hit it a little bit and the elements will just like crush your golf ball.

“Pars win holes out there.”

Inkster played on nine U.S. teams, but was glad she was watching from the sidelines today. Probably doubly so because for the second successive day play was incredibly pedestrian – the first match took an unforgivable five hours and 48 minutes.

“It was so tough out there for those girls, and for them to have to play 36 holes,” Inkster said. “But you know what, Europe has to do it, too.

“Most of the European team, they live in Florida. They grew up in this weather, but they’ve gone to school and they’ve played over in the States for a long time.”

Inkster had the luxury of resting her hottest two players and still got back to all square. Jessica and Nelly Korda lead the U.S. team with 2½ points out of three. They had most of the morning off when the ran up a 6-and-5 foursomes victory over Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law. Yet Inkster left them out of the fourballs.

“The Kordas played twice yesterday and once today in some really tough weather. I’m going to need them in my singles matches. Those points are very valuable. They need some rest.”

Inkster turned to rookies Brittany Altomare and Annie Park to get the first point on the board. They promptly went out and defeated Suzann Pettersen and Ann van Dam by one hole.

“For Brittany and Annie to get a point right off the bat was huge,” Inkster said. “It was a true ham and egg. I don’t think one carried the other; I think they both played as a team. So I’m ecstatic I got a point from them and I got to rest the Kordas.”

Once again better clutch putting was key to U.S. success. Danielle Kang holed two birdie putts at 16 and 17 to help her and Salas defeat Ciganda and Azahara Munoz 2 and 1.

The score could have been 2-2 but Masson missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the last that would’ve helped her and Ewart Shadoff win over Alex and Thompson.

The only blot on the U.S. team sheet was Ally McDonald and Angel Yin’s two-hole loss to Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier. They’re Europe’s strongest pair with three-points out of three as a tandem.

A tied score favors Inkster, since team USA is 9-5-1 in singles play in 15 Solheim Cups so far.

“We’re ecstatic where we are because I think we’re pretty good in singles,” Inkster said.

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