Europe stun USA with dramatic fightback to lift Solheim Cup
EUROPE won the Solheim Cup for the first time in four renewals after a dramatic finish to the final day’s singles.
The home side had led 10-8 and 11-9 at Killeen Castle in Ireland, but were pegged back and at one point trailed 12.5 to 11.5.
But Christel Boeljon levelled and Suzann Pettersen, Caroline Hedwall and Azahara Munoz saw them to a 15-13 victory.
With those three pairs left out on the course, all eyes were on the duel between Pettersen and Michelle Wie.
The American was one up going into the 16th when Pettersen sunk a putt to level, the pair then going into the final hole all square.
Pettersen held her nerve with a superb second shot while Wie found the bunker, and the Norwegian holed her putt for a birdie-birdie-birdie finish and a fine win.
And fellow Scandinavian Hedwall sealed victory when she won the last hole to halve her match with Ryann O’Toole.
The Swede’s approach spun back from the fringe of the green while O’Toole missed the green to the left and then duffed her chip, kindling memories of Hunter Mahan’s decisive 17th-hole melt- down against Graeme McDowell in last year’s Ryder Cup.
She sent her next narrowly past the hole and, with Munoz lying dormie one, Hedwall’s half-point secured the trophy for Europe – though their celebrations on the green and fairway, with Munoz and Stanford still to play, were excessive.
Munoz had nervelessly holed out to go down the last one up and, once order was restored, halved the last to earn a full point and a two-point winning margin for Europe.
Captain Alison Nicholas said: “The players showed such heart and passion, I hand it all to them.
“They were so up for it and believed in themselves, the rookies were fantastic and the experienced players have done well as well.”
She reserved special praise for Pettersen and Hedwall, saying of the former: “She’s a champion, and that’s what champions are made of.”
On Hedwall, she added: “What a great rookie performance, she’s a star of the future – watch out for her.”
Hedwall added: “It’s a great win, it’s nice to win it on home soil. It’s been a great atmosphere all week, it’s one of the best weeks of my life.”
On a day disrupted by the weather, with driving rain and wind and the threat of lightning forcing play to be suspended three times, Europe had moved into a 10-8 lead after Catriona Matthew’s dominant victory followed Cristie Kerr’s withdrawal through injury.
The three-time LPGA winner won 6&5 against Paula Creamer after the American missed a putt at the 13th.
The Scot’s victory in County Meath came after Kerr was forced to pull out of her singles match against Karen Stupples because of a wrist injury.
Kerr later released a statement saying: “I’m devastated that I couldn’t play to help represent my team. I tried my best but I couldn’t hold the golf club.”
The pendulum kept swinging from one team to the other, with the United States reducing the deficit to one point when Brittany Lang had a dominant 6&5 victory over Sandra Gal.
However, moments later Europe restored their two-point lead when Sophie Gustafson won two up against Stacy Lewis for her third win in four matches this week.
Morgan Pressel came from two down to win 2&1 against Anna Nordqvist and Europe led only 11-10.
The tussle between Laura Davies and Juli Inkster was a fascinating one and, following yet another break because of the threat of lightning, the players returned and when the former just missed on her final putt it meant the match finished all-square, taking the score to 11.5 to 10.5.
American Christina Kim enjoyed a dominant victory over Maria Hjorth, 4&2, to square it at 11.5 each before Vicky Hurst’s two-up victory put the USA ahead, only for Europe to roar back.
Kenneth Ferrie came through a play-off with fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield to lift the Austrian Golf Open in Atzenbrugg.
The 32-year-old, from Newcastle, held his nerve to lift a third European Tour title.
He sealed the win on the 18th hole, being afforded two putts to do so despite his initial drive going wide of the fairway while Wakefield’s landed on it.
Staffordshire’s Wakefield, last year’s Qualifying School champion, overhit his second shot into rough at the back of the green, though, and, after Ferrie had recovered with a beautiful second to within seven feet of the pin, the rest was a formality.
ALMOST THERE: Europe’s Suzann Pettersen celebrtates with her caddy David Brooker after winning her singles match against USA’s Michelle Wie. The result helped the hosts to a 15-13 overall victory at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Below, Petterson is joined in the celebrations by her team-mates and captain Alison Nicholas.