This is why I never gave up on Team USA. Even after they were in holes after days 1 and 2 of Solheim Cup 2015, I felt if they could keep it close, maybe 2 points behind…at the most 3…they would have the advantage in singles. Sure, Europe handed the Americans their hats in singles at Solheim Cup 2013, 7.5 to 4.5, but historically Our Ladies have had the advantage in singles play. Although anything can happen in match play, going by Rolex Rankings, we should have the stronger squad top to bottom in singles. Put it this way, some people (certainly NOT me) thought Paula Creamer was a controversial pick for Team USA, despite her stellar Solheim Cup record. By Rolex Rankings, she ranked 11th out of 12 Team USA players. However, she would have ranked 4th on the European side, behind only Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz. What I didn’t anticipate was falling behind 6 points to 10 after day 2 matches were completed Sunday morning before day 3 singles began. That was similar to the 10.5 (EUR) to 5.5 (USA) deficit from 2013 going into singles. Not only were we in a similar predicament, there was anger, controversy and tears before the singles even started.
Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome started the morning finishing their fourball match against Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull. All square on 17, Lee missed a birdie putt to win the hole. The ball stopped maybe 1 foot…possibly a foot and a half from the hole. Alison said she thought she heard somebody say, “that’s good,” basically conceding the hole. Suzann was already off the green en route to the final hole and Charley was walking off. Thinking the hole had been conceded, Lee picked up her ball. Then, Pettersen turned around and said the hole was not conceded, saying no verbal communication of concession ever came from their team. Later, Alison would admit it was possible what she heard came from the crowd. By the letter of the law, Pettersen was correct. I cannot dispute that point. However, by the spirit of sportsmanship, it certainly appeared by body language that Pettersen and Hull were fast on their way to the next hole and had conceded the short putt. There was no cheating per se, but I do think there was gamesmanship. I think most people in that situation, with Suzann and Charley on their way to the next hole, would have thought the hole had been conceded. Instead, not only was that not the case, Team USA lost the hole to go 1-down instead of leaving #17 with the match all square. Pettersen and Hull would go on to win hole 18 to win 2-up, but it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Americans. If you beat us, you beat us. Fair and square. Tip our hats. But this one seemed like Suzann made it appear she was conceding only to turn around when it was too late for Alison to fix her mistake. Even Charley Hull was in tears at the situation. Europe’s captains also talked to Suzann, but Pettersen appeared to be unreceptive. In fact, on a few holes in singles play it seemed to me that Suzann was in the mood to show up everybody by getting off the green as quickly as possible when she could. Unfortunately, for Team Europe, the Americans weren’t going gently into defeat.
Team USA came out in singles and showed their strength, particularly on the backend in final matches. They needed to prevent the Europeans from earning 4 points. Nothing short of 8.5 to 3.5 was acceptable if the Americans were to win. That’s exactly what they scored. In a rematch from Solheim Cup 2013, where Caroline Hedwall beat Michelle Wie 1-up, Wie turned the tables on Hedwall by blowing her out 6 & 4. Alison Lee bounced back from her morning heartbreak to take out Gwladys Nocera 3 & 1. Angela Stanford put past Solheim ghosts to bed with a measure of payback for the Americans, beating Pettersen 2 & 1. However, the biggest shot of the day came from Gerina Piller. Going to 18 1-up on Caroline Masson, Gerina was in position to lose the hole as Caroline had a putt to win the hole and halve the match. With Team Europe at that time sitting on 13.5 points, all they needed was that half a point to retain the Solheim Cup. Piller knew it. She had looked up at the board and saw Europe at 13 and a half. At worse, she had to havle the hole. Masson missed her birdie putt. Still, the par putt for Piller was a medium range knee knocker. With so much pressure, it would have been understandable if she missed. Captain Juli Inkster was crouched down looking at the ground, unable to even watch. Gerina, standing over maybe the biggest putt of her life, just STUCK IT! That didn’t yet win the Solheim Cup for the Americans, but it would have lost it if she had missed. Stanford’s win over Pettersen a few minutes later left Paula Creamer, the controversial…somehow…pick for the Americans, with the final match to seal the deal. She was so far up on Sandra Gal it was a near formality. The Pink Panther closed out Gal and the Europeans 4 & 3 to return the Solheim Cup to the USA for the first time since 2009, 14.5 to 13.5.
So let the celebration begin for Team USA! They showed heart, tenacity and resilience. Even had they lost, I would have said so based on what I saw. I wrote that in 2013 after they lost. But it’s so much sweeter when you win. And maybe for a little while we won’t have to hear people ask what is wrong with our Solheim (and Ryder Cup, for that matter) team. All that talent and they can’t beat Europe. Hey, you win some and you lose some, especially in golf. I never lost hope or belief in Our Ladies. They are fighters. So are the Europeans. I am just so happy and proud of what Team USA did out there to win back the Solheim Cup. When it counted the most, they gave their best. Congratulations, Team USA!
|Lexi Thompson||halved||Carlota Ciganda|
|Morgan Pressel||2 up||Catriona Matthew|
|Brittany Lincicome||3 & 2||Karine Icher|
|Brittany Lang||2 & 1||Melissa Reid|
|Alison Lee||3 & 1||Gwladys Nocera|
|Gerina Piller||1 up||Caroline Masson|
|Stacy Lewis||2 & 1||Anna Nordqvist|
|Lizette Salas||3 & 1||Azahara Muñoz|
|Angela Stanford||2 & 1||Suzann Pettersen|
|Cristie Kerr||3 & 2||Charley Hull|
|Michelle Wie||6 & 4||Caroline Hedwall|
|Paula Creamer||4 & 3||Sandra Gal|
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