On Monday, Europe defeated the United States 15-13 to retain the Solheim Cup, thanks to rookies Matilda Castren and Leona Maguire.
Castren of Finland came out of a bunker and sunk a putt on the 18th hole to secure a 1-up victory over American Lizette Salas, ensuring Europe would retain the trophy it won at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2019.
The Europeans needed five points from 12 singles matches on the last day of the biennial match-play clash between European and US women to win the Cup back to Europe from Inverness Club in Ohio.
With a strong 5&4 victory over Jennifer Kupcho, Ireland’s Maguire — like Castren, the first woman from her country to play in the Solheim Cup — delivered Europe’s first point of the day.
Maguire, who had already teamed up to score 3 1/2 points in fourball and foursome matches over the opening two days, took the lead with an eagle at the par-five second and never looked back.
Maguire, who became only the third player to win 4 1/2 or more points in the Solheim Cup, stated, “I’m just really thrilled of earning 4 1/2 points on the board for Europe.”
“I just wanted to get off to a good start,” she said, “and that eagle on the second couldn’t have begun any better.”
“Made birdie on six, which is a hole I haven’t played well all week,” Maguire remarked after her approach to the sixth went over the pin, leaving her with an eight-footer for birdie.
“I really wanted to put pressure on Jen from the start,” she explained after winning with a par at the 14th hole.
Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, who was involved in a rules dispute on day one, gave Europe the following point with a 3&2 triumph over Ally Ewing.
And Celine Boutier of France beat Mina Harigae 5&4 before a dramatic match between Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and Lexi Thompson ended in a tie, giving the Americans their first half-point of the day.
As the afternoon progressed, the Americans were able to increase the pressure with the help of raucous spectators.
Nelly Korda, the world number one, fell behind early and had to come back to win 1-up in a back-and-forth battle with Georgia Hall of England.
Brittany Altomare of the United States won four of the last five holes for a 2&1 triumph over Carlota Ciganda of Spain, thanks to a handful of monster putts.
The final six sets for the United States were must-wins after Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen halved her match with Austin Ernst.
Castren knew the stakes were high when she went into the final hole with a one-shot lead over Salas, and she was ecstatic to finish the job.
“It’s difficult to put into words,” she said. “I’m trembling right now.” I was staring at the scoreboard and realized it would be a crucial putt. It went in because we read it exactly. “I’m just overjoyed right now.”
After Emily Pederson completed her 1-up victory against Danielle Kang in the final set to earn the outright triumph, Europe’s players were able to fully celebrate in front of an extremely pro-American crowd due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
After the opening day on Saturday, when Europe seized a 5 1/2 – 2 1/2 lead, US captain Pat Hurst stated the Americans were “behind the eight-ball.”
The Americans came out strong in the Sunday morning foursomes matches, but Europe regained control by the close of the second day, leading 9-7 heading into the third day.
VERY CLOSE, BUT NOT SUFFICIENT
“We battled back,” Hurst said, adding that the final score would “still be close.”
“However, it is insufficient,” she added. “It is what it is,” says the narrator. They played with passion, which is exactly what we’re looking for.”
The pandemic travel restrictions that prevented many European fans from visiting, according to Nordqvist, made the course “difficult.”
“You don’t receive any claps,” she explained, “and you have no idea whether you’re on the green or not.”
However, Boutier believes the European squad, which won the Solheim Cup for the fourth time in the last six editions, benefited from their seclusion.
“The team bonding has been incredible,” stated the French player. “I suppose being confined here amongst all the Americans pulls us closer together.”
The European Union defeats the United States 15-13.
The match between Anna Nordqvist (EUR) and Lexi Thompson (USA) was halved.
Ally Ewing (US) against Madelene Sagstrom (EUR) (USA) 3&2
Jennifer Kupcho bt Leona Maguire (EUR) (USA) 5&4
Georgia Hall bt Nelly Korda (USA) (EUR) Celine Boutier (EUR) is ranked first, followed by Mina Harigae (USA) 5&4
The match between Nanna Koerstz Madsen (EUR) and Austin Ernst (USA) was halved.
Lizette Salas bt Matilda Castren (EUR) (USA) 1-up
Carlota Ciganda bt Brittany Altomare (USA) (EUR) 2&1
Megan Khang of the United States defeats Sophia Popov of Russia (EUR) 3&2
Mel Reid vs. Yealimi Noh (USA) (EUR) Jessica Korda (USA) defeats Charley Hull in a one-on-one match (EUR) 2&1
Danielle Kang (USA) vs. Emily Pedersen (EUR) (USA) 1-up