A few days ago golf legend Annika Sorenstam said that it was important for Team Europe to win Solheim Cup 2011 to make the competition relevant. Wins in the last three events (2005, 2007 and 2009) by Team USA coupled with 8 American wins in 11 Solheim Cups was threatening to make the premier team competition in women’s golf too one-sided. Another win in 2011 would certainly do so. Not to worry, Annika, Team Europe rose to the occassion and stunned the favored American team in singles 7-5 to win Solheim Cup 2011 15-13.
Early on, one could almost feel it wasn’t to be for Team USA. The #1 US player, Cristie Kerr, was in tears on the practice tee, clutching her right arm, as her husband tried to console her. Soon thereafter, it was announced that she would be unable to play her match against Karen Stupples. By agreement, if a player in unable to play in singles, the match is forfeited 10 and 8 to the opposing player, along with 1 point for winning. Before any match could even reach fruition, Europe had broken the 8-8 tie following Saturday’s play to go up 9-8. Soon thereafter, Europe’s Catriona Matthew would stun the Americans again by not only defeating superstar Paula Creamer, but absolutely crushing her 6 and 5. Suddenly, much too quickly for Team USA, it was 10-8 Team Europe.
But the Americans would not go gently, as Morgan Pressel, Vicky Hurst, Brittany Lang and Christina Kim all won their matches and Juli Inkster halved hers. But down the stretch, Suzann Pettersen, locked in a back and forth battle with Michelle Wie, finally shook off the American on the final hole to give Europe a 13.5 point total. But Solheim rookie Ryann O’Toole was still up on fellow rookie Caroline Hedwall and Angela Stanford still had a shot against rookie Azahara Munoz. But Hedwall, a rising star, chased down O’Toole and managed to halve her match for a crucial 14th point. America’s Stanford headed to 18 1-down, with only a half point possible. The European team erupted following Hedwall’s half point. They knew it was over.
I’ve given 3 stars to my picks for players of the day the first two days. I’m going to be brief and name my 3 stars of the day and then move on to 3 stars for the entire event. #1 star of day three in my eyes is Catriona Matthew. Sure, Pettersen and Hedwall had the dramatics late, but they wouldn’t have meant anything but for wins early. No win was more emphatic for Europe than Matthew coming out and setting the tone by decisively beating Paula Creamer. #2 star of the day goes to Caroline Hedwall. Ryann O’Toole has been brilliant all week and looked poised to give the USA a desperately needed point. Hedwall was equally brilliant in reeling Ryann in and turning the tide. #3 stars goes to Christel Boeljon. Again, Pettersen was more dramatic, but Suzann won a match she was expected to win…barely. Wie made her go to the wire. Boeljon took out an LPGA Major winner and huge hitter on a course that favors length, Brittany Lincicome. On paper, Lincicome looked like the pick on paper at the beginning, but it was Christel giving Europe a much needed point in the end. Now on to my 3 stars of the entire event.
My #1 Solheim 2011 Star goes to Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson (EUR). Sophie went 4-0-0 for the event, culminating in her 2-up victory over 2011 Kraft Nabisco Champion Stacy Lewis in singles. On an outside note, Sophie also gave a prepared television Q&A during the event. This is is significant because Sophie shuns speaking on camera due to a stutter. She was courageous and did a fantastic job. I have been a longtime Sophie fan. I have to admit that while I was rooting for Team USA, Sophie was the only European player I was hoping would win her singles match.
Joining Gustafson with a 4-0-0 record is my #2 Solheim 2011 Star, Morgan Pressel. After a 1-2-1 start in her Solheim debut in 2007, Morgan has been money ever since, going 6-0-1 combined for Solheim 2009 and 2011. She also picked up teammate Cristie Kerr in their afternoon pairing on Sunday with her words and her play in their big win over Suzann Pettersen and Caroline Hedwall. Sorry to see Morgan’s 4 win effort come in a loss, but she did everything she could to swing things Team USA’s way.
Had it not been for that loss to Pressel and Kerr, I might have gone with Pettersen or Hedwall for my #3. Instead, my #3 Solheim 2011 Star goes to Catriona Matthew. Catriona was undefeated for Team Europe at 2-0-2. Moreover, she had the statement win early in singles, taking out Paula Creamer, perhaps America’s biggest gun in singles with the injury to Kerr, emphatically 6 & 5.
Solheim 2011 is in the books. All praise and congratulations to Team Europe on their thrilling win. They were underdogs on paper but matches aren’t won with ink and lead. As a fan of women’s golf, a big thank you to both Team Europe and Team America for showing how skilled and talented they are. I don’t expect LPGA ratings to start shooting through the roof, but maybe a few folks in the States who only watch the PGA caught some of the Solheim Cup will be inclined to check out LPGA broadcasts in the future.
|Paula Creamer||6 and 5||Catriona Matthew|
|Stacy Lewis||2 up||Sophie Gustafson|
|Morgan Pressel||2 and 1||Anna Nordqvist|
|Juli Inkster||halved||Laura Davies|
|Vicky Hurst||2 up||Melissa Reid|
|Brittany Lincicome||2 up||Christel Boeljon|
|Brittany Lang||6 and 5||Sandra Gal|
|Christina Kim||4 and 2||Maria Hjorth|
|Michelle Wie||1 up||Suzann Pettersen|
|Ryann O’Toole||halved||Caroline Hedwall|
|Angela Stanford||1 up||Azahara Muñoz|
|Cristie Kerr||10 and 8||Karen Stupples|
Kerr conceded the match at the start because of injury. Following Solheim Cup rules this is a 10 and 8 win for Europe.