Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Spain’s hero thrives as Europeans keep Cup


CASARES, Spain — It took the home-crowd favorite to help Europe do just enough to keep the Solheim Cup.

With a big finish by Spaniard Carlota Ciganda on Sunday, the Europeans retained the Solheim Cup after securing a first-ever tie, 14-14, with the United States.

“There’s nothing like this,” Ciganda said. “To play in Spain in front of your home crowd, and to have my name being chanted, it’s really amazing, very special and just something that I won’t forget.”

The U.S. needed a win to get the trophy back after two consecutiv­e losses against Europe in the top team event in women’s golf. It’s the first time Europe has secured three consecutiv­e Solheim Cups against the United States.

The teams split the 12 decisive singles matches on the final day to finish tied with jubilant Europe keeping the trophy.

Ciganda, the only Spaniard in the European team, came up with two superb approach shots on the closing holes — including on the 145-yard par-3 17th — and made the near tapin putts for consecutiv­e birdies that secured the clinching 14th point for Europe.

She beat Nelly Korda 2 and 1 for her fourth consecutiv­e victory after sitting out the opening session on Friday morning. She was the only player to win four matches this week.

Ciganda’s teammates raised her on their shoulders, and the celebratio­n continued with champagne being splashed around by the Europeans.

“It was a team effort and I’m so proud of everyone,” Ciganda said. “I love the Solheim Cup and I love being in Spain. The cup stays where it belongs.”

Europe’s captain Suzann Pettersen, who four years ago made the winning putt to win the Solheim Cup as a player, raised the trophy in front of her squad. Ciganda then raised the cup high in front of the chanting fans at Finca Cortesin in southern Spain.

“I think it was meant to be,” said Pettersen, who earlier in the week said she felt like she needed to put the Spaniard on a “leash” to keep her grounded. “This is all Carlota, let her have it.”

Spanish King Felipe VI was at Finca Cortesin and helped present the trophy to the winners. He praised the players and gave Ciganda a hug.

The teams entered the final day tied 8-8 after the U.S. got off to its best start ever with a 4-0 win in the foursome matches on Friday morning, when Ciganda didn’t play, but saw Europe slowly rally during the weekend.

“This is a dream come true. We had a massive challenge ahead of us. Today we created history yet again in the Solheim Cup and these girls are legends,” said Pettersen, who added that she plans to be back as captain next year.

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