Liguori: Solheim Cup A Winner!
By Ann Liguori
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Dunsany, Ireland: One couldn’t help but get completely transfixed on the Solheim Cup — the quality of the golf, the competitiveness, the will and determination to win from players on both sides, the side dramas that added to the compelling nature of the competition and the pressure coming down the stretch provided intense entertainment!
Both the US and European Teams were tied at 8 heading into the third and final day of the matches. Since the US Team were defending champions (winners of the last three, in fact), the US needed 14 points to retain the Cup, the European Team needed 14 ½ to win.
Saturday was a ‘Chamber of Commerce’ day for the Irish at Killeen Castle – sunny, warm and relatively little wind. The Americans were smiling and Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley’s presence there added to the excitement: Lopez was going hoarse, yelling and rooting the American players on while Bradley was thanking the many Americans she saw in the galleries for traveling across the pond to support the team. Annika Sorenstam was high-fiving colleagues when a European player sunk a long putt. The galleries were jovial and the Jack Nicklaus-designed course glistened amongst the majestic presence of Killeen Castle, parts of which date back to the 12th century.
As beautiful as it was on Saturday, Sunday was just the opposite. Strong winds, heavy rain and threat of lightning caused three suspensions of play throughout the day! The conditions favored the Europeans and they were able to come up with the better shots down the stretch to beat the Americans 15-13 and win the Solheim Cup for the first time in 8 years.
Sunday’s singles matches started with high drama when Christie Kerr was seen on the range, sobbing in the arms of her husband as she realized her wrist hurt too badly from tendonitis to play her against Karen Stupples. They were supposed to be the 12th and final match to go out. But with Kerr forced to withdraw, Europe got their first point of the day. Kerr was heartbroken. With two wins, one loss and a halve, and her strong play leading into this Solheim Cup with 19 top five finishes through the qualifying process, Kerr was looked upon as an experienced anchor to close out a win for the Americans. But it wasn’t to be.
Morgan Pressel, Vicky Hurst, Brittany Lang and Christina Kim won their matches which kept the over-all competition close.
As good as Paula Creamer played all weekend, however; Catriona Matthew dominated her on Sunday, 6 and 5. Sophie Gustafson won all four of her matches, with a birdie on the last hole in singles to beat Stacy Lewis, 2 up. Juli Inkster halved her up-and-down battle against Laura Davies.
The drama was only starting at this point. Suzann Pettersen, one down to Michelle Wie going into the 16th, beat Wie on holes 16 and 18, with birdies on the last three holes, to beat Wie, 1 up.
Ryann O’Toole, after being two up over Caroline Hedwall of the Netherlands, bogied holes 17 and 18 to ‘halve’ her match against Hedwall.
And Azahara Munoz of Spain birdied the 17th to go one up against Angela Stanford which guaranteed Europe the Solheim Cup victory, before closing out her ‘one up’ win on the last hole.
It was an impressive finish under pressure for the European team! Although the Europeans started the day with the edge because of Kerr conceding her match due to injury; the Americans squandered several opportunities to win and the European team, full of passion and heart, grabbed the glory when they could.
Either way, the Solheim Cup is alive and well. It’s a disappointing loss for the Americans but both sides provided intense drama, entertainment and showed tremendous patriotism, passion and heart throughout!
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