Europeans stun Americans to win Solheim Cup

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Europeans stun Americans to win Solheim Cup

Golf

Europeans stun Americans to win Solheim Cup

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland – It was a dizzying affair. Momentum shifted back and forth like fescue in a stiff Scottish breeze. Perhaps the closest contest from start to finish of any Solheim Cup ended with a part-time player, full-time legend draining a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to give Europe its first victory in six years.

Everything down the stretch had to go Europe’s way. Bronte Law, an English lioness who sprinted out the tunnel and onto the first tee, walked in a birdie putt on the 16th hole and closed her match against alternate Ally McDonald on the 17th to leave the fate of the Cup in Suzann Pettersen’s hands. They are cut from the same mold, Law and Pettersen. High-octane players who feed off of moments like this, particularly in team competition.

“I’d have pulled it and missed it left for sure,” joked vice captain Laura Davies.

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The rookie Law watched her hero’s epic putt a big-screen to the left of the 17th green. She dropped to her knees in a moment of glorious relief when the crowd’s roar in real-time gave it away. Law sprinted toward the rest of her teammates to celebrate their 14 ½ to 13 ½ stunner.

On the 18th green, Pettersen was joined by her son Herman, born just over a year ago. There’s been a baby boom of late on the LPGA, and Pettersen’s 20-month break from competition made her a controversial pick for captain Catriona Matthew.

In retrospect, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that a woman who won the Women’s British Open 11 weeks after giving birth would put her faith in a fellow mom whose presence on the European team is as intimidating as her 16-11-6 record.

“I mean, can you ask for more?” asked the 38-year-old Pettersen, who promptly retired from professional golf.

It was a dream day for Matthew too, who said at the start of the week that a win on Scottish soil, 80 miles from her home in North Berwick, would be the highlight of her career. Ahead of her major victory.

“I could barely watch, actually,” said Matthew, whose calm, steady presence brings a calmness to her players. When it was over, caddies and players lifted Matthew on their shoulders and carried her above the chaos. A great Scott, indeed.

“There’s never been a better moment,” she said.

Team Europe celebrate as Suzann Pettersen makes a birdie putt to clinch the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

This was a written-in-the-stars finish for two European stalwarts who have helped build the Solheim Cup and inspired countless others, including many on the team.

“I had my first LPGA win this year,” said Law, “and this trumps it by a mile.”

The Americans came in as the favorites, according to bookmakers. Though Davies wanted a piece of that action. Forget rankings, the Americans had six rookies on their team, after Stacy Lewis withdrew due to injury, and only three players with experience on foreign soil.

The list of players who weren’t on U.S. captain Juli Inkster’s team created more talking points than those who made the trip. Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome to name a few.

Inkster put her new-look team into pods, preached confidence in their tour-tested experience and busted a move on the first tee. It was vintage Inkster. And for a while, it looked like America’s first three-time captain might prove unstoppable.

Lexi Thompson, the top-ranked player in the contest, needed her caddie to tee up the ball after suffering back spasms during her Sunday warm-up session. With the contest knotted at 8-8 headed into singles, every point felt crucial.

The first match stretched to the 18th, a theme of the week in the tightest of contests. Europe held a one-point lead after the first day, and the Americans rallied on Saturday in brutal conditions that saw wind gusts routinely over 40 mph. Golf balls actually fell off of tees.

What’s believed to be the biggest grandstand in Solheim Cup history spilled over onto the tee and down the first fairway. The sea of support – roughly 90,000 over three days – lifted European and American players alike, who routinely said they’d never seen anything quite like it.

Even the sun broke through to show its favor.

The affair seesawed all afternoon, with rookies like Celine Boutier and Brittany Altomare pouring in pressure putts like they were born for this stage.

Boutier became the first rookie in Solheim Cup history to go 4-0 in her debut. Georgia Hall, her partner the first two days and last year’s British Open winner, turned in an identical record after dusting Thompson, whose back improved after the first few holes.

Jessica and Nelly Korda became the first sister-act to compete together in a Solheim Cup and went undefeated as a team. They contributed seven of Team USA’s 13 ½ points.

There were tears from the Americans when it was over, and Inkster – a leader who’s as fierce as she is fun – put an arm around her players and told them, “The sun’s going to come out tomorrow. It was great for women’s golf.”

Will the beloved captain go for a fourth round?

“No, no, no,” she said. “I’m not even getting on the call.”

The beloved Hall of Famer choked up when Lizette Salas explained what it meant to play for Inkster the past three Cups.

“She just encourages us to play with heart and class and integrity,” said Salas. “And that is something that’s – it’s indescribable.”

While it’s the end of an era for the Americans, Davies would like to see Matthew carry on in Toledo, Ohio, in 2021, calling this the greatest European victory in Solheim Cup history. She deserves another go.

The European players walked into the interview room draped in their countries’ flags and huddled around a phone watching their own highlights, a shimmering trophy sitting inches away.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life,” said Law, with a bright blue afro-wig atop her blonde locks. “And I don’t know whether I ever will again.”

Sunday singles results

  • Carlota Ciganda (Europe) 1 up Danielle Kang (USA)
  • Nelly Korda (USA) 2 up Caroline Hedwall (Europe)
  • Georgia Hall (Europe) 2 & 1 Lexi Thompson (USA)
  • Celine Boutier (Europe) 2 & 1 Annie Park (USA)
  • Angel Yin (USA) 2 & 1 Azahara Munoz (Europe)
  • Megan Khang (USA) halved Charley Hull (Europe)
  • Lizette Salas (USA) 1 up Anne van Dam (Europe)
  • Jessica Korda (USA) 3 & 2 Caroline Masson (Europe)
  • Brittany Altomare (USA) 5 & 4 Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Europe)
  • Suzann Pettersen (Europe) 1 up Marina Alex (USA)
  • Bronte Law (Europe) 2 & 1 Ally McDonald (USA)
  • Anna Nordqvist (Europe) 4 & 3 Morgan Pressel (USA)

Solheim Cup 2019 results

USA

Marina Alex – 1-1-2

Brittany Altomare – 2-1-1

Danielle Kang – 1-3-0

Megan Khang – 0-2-1

Jessica Korda – 3-0-1

Nelly Korda – 3-0-1

Ally McDonald – 1-3-0

Annie Park – 2-1-0

Morgan Pressel – 1-0-2

Lizette Salas – 2-2-0

Lexi Thompson – 0-2-1

Angel Yin – 2-1-0

EUROPE

Celine Boutier – 4-0-0

Carlota Ciganda – 1-2-2

Georgia Hall – 4-0-0

Caroline Hedwall – 0-2-0

Charley Hull – 2-0-2

Bronte Law – 1-1-2

Caroline Masson – 0-2-1

Azahara Munoz – 2-2-1

Anna Nordqvist – 1-2-0

Suzann Pettersen – 2-1-0

Jodi Ewart Shadoff – 0-2-1

Anne van Dam – 1-3-0

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