GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Hopefully European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew has prepared winning and losing speeches for the closing ceremony. Looks like she’ll probably be reading from the latter unless her team can buck a singles trend that favors the United States in the biennial match.
Things don’t look good for the home team with 12 head-to-head matches to come, even though her team is tied 8-8 after the first four sessions. U.S. teams don’t normally lose in singles.
As we say in Scotland, it looks like “the game’s a bogey, the ba’s burst” for Matthew’s team.
The United States holds a 9-5-1 advantage in singles play. Team USA has won 99.5 total singles points versus 72.5 for the Europeans. More depressing for the home team, the U.S. is 3-1 ahead when tied going into the singles.
There is a modicum of good news for Matthew: Europe came out on top the last time the two sides were level before the singles. Alison Nicholas’s 2011 team achieved that. Another plus? Europe is two for two in matches played in the Home of Golf (1992 & 2000). Maybe that’s why the 2009 Women’s British Open champion is upbeat.
“To be honest, probably as a team slightly chirpier tonight,” Matthew said. “At one point this afternoon it looked as though it could potentially go 4-0 or 3-1 (for the U.S.) It wasn’t looking good. To get out of it at two and a half one and a half ended up being good for us.”
As a veteran of nine Solheim Cups, three on winning teams, Matthew knows victory will come down to a few intangibles.
“What we learned is there’s not much to pick between them (the two teams). They’re pretty fairly balanced.
“I think it’s going to be pretty tight again tomorrow, just like the first two days. It’s just going to come down to that one long putt, a chip-in, just something. You can see the momentum changes sometimes on the leaderboard. I think it will be a small thing that can change it one way or the other.”
Europe should be ahead. It let two full points slip yesterday in the final two fourballs, and another today when Caroline Masson missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the final green that would have given her and Jodi Ewart Shadoff a point over Lexi Thompson and Marina Alex. That’s normally fatal in team golf, but Matthew’s glass is half-full.
“As a captain, you always hope for more. You always want to be going in ahead. Just in my nature I’d rather be ahead than behind. But tied is good. As I say, we’re probably happier tonight than we were last night. I think that bodes well for tomorrow.”
It better be if Matthew is to lead Europe to three straight wins on Scottish soil.