Solheim Cup Review: Columnist Mickey Walker
Wow! Everyone who was at the Solheim Cup will feel that they were part of something very special. We saw Europe’s first- ever win on American soil, by the record margin of 18 points to 10, Caroline Hedwall’s maximum five points, and witnessed the youngest ever Solheim Cup competitor, England’s Charley Hull, who absolutely blew everyone away with the standard of her play and refreshing attitude.
Before the matches began, I thought that we had our best- ever chance to win in America, but never in my wildest dreams did I envisage the manner and margin of our victory. With six rookies and three of our other players only having played on one previous occasion, no-one could predict how the majority of the team would play, especially when in America and playing in front of very partisan and extremely noisy crowds. Well, it didn’t take us long to find out!
After a good start taking a lead in Friday morning’s foursomes 3-1, the top match in the fourballs was filled with controversy when it took the match officials 27 minutes to give Carlota Ciganda a ruling on where to drop from a lateral water hazard on the 15th. This caused the next two fourballs to be backed up and play to come to a standstill. What was even more baffling was that the ruling subsequently turned out to be incorrect. This prompted much heated discussion after the finish of the match with the officials making a public apology for having given a wrong ruling.
Carlota played a wonderful shot from hard, sandy, desert- like rough onto the edge of the green and then proceeded to hole the putt for one of the best pars I’ve ever seen! Carlota and Suzann Pettersen’s opponents, Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis, who had previously given themselves two birdie putts, inevitably missed them for the match to remain all square.
Europe then won the 16th and hung on to give Europe an overall lead of 5-3.
On Saturday morning Europe battled valiantly to win 1 1⁄2 points, the highlight being the first-ever Solheim Cup hole-in- one by Anna Nordqvist on the 17th to secure a point for Europe against Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda so we took a slender one-point lead into the afternoon fourballs.
With Colorado being extremely hilly and a difficult walking course, at 6,000 feet above sea level and the
temperatures a searing 90 ̊- plus, Lotta Neumann took the brave decision to rest her three top players – Pettersen, Catriona Matthew and Nordqvist.
This meant that the final fourball matches had a total of five European rookies playing. The European fans were worried, and Meg Mallon and the American fans sensed that this was their chance to put points on the board. Well, what followed was an historic whitewash, spearheaded by Hull and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who between them had 10 birdies against the shell- shocked pairing of Paula Creamer and Jessica Korda, who themselves had eight birdies! Match after match swung Europe’s way, culminating with Karine Icher’s magnificent downhill 30-foot put on the 18th.
During that final match another water hazard ruling, this time on the 16th, took even longer than Carlota Ciganda’s the day before.
During this the fans started singing “while we are young” the catchphrase from a USGA campaign aimed at speeding up play! Too many people got involved with both rulings and the officials weren’t strong enough dealing with the situations.
On the final day Meg Mallon drew on everything to inspire her players, including prayers on Sunday morning and an inspirational speech from Ben Crenshaw, one of the co- designers of the magnificent Colorado Golf Club. He was also of course captain of the American Ryder Cup team who defeated Europe at Brookline in 1999 when the Americans went into the singles four points behind.
The wonderful thing was that she never stopped trying and never let her head go down The wonderful thing was that she never stopped trying and never let her head go down. However, nothing was going to stop the inevitable European victory with an under- performing American team. In contrast, the European team was full of stars about who I could write reams about. It seems a little unfair in the circumstances, but I have to mention Hedwall’s magnificent performance in becoming the first ever player in Solheim Cup history to win all five of her matches. Caroline’s play was inspirational and reminded me of Seve at his best, making the putts that mattered and being a true inspiration to the Europeans.
Carlota Ciganda was also unbeaten in the three matches that she played. On the first day Carlota visited parts of the course that not even the spectators behind the ropes had visited! After that, Carlota’s play got better culminating in her best performance in the singles when she convincingly beat Morgan Pressel in the singles.
Read more about how all of the players HERE
A PROPER CHARLEY
I must mention Charley Hull, who everyone fell in love with during the week.
Charley was like a breath of fresh air, and not just because of how she plays the game.
Having said that, she doesn’t appear to have a weakness in her game: she hits it a long way, can be pin- point accurate with her irons and putts brilliantly. What I love about her game though is the creativity and the ability that she has to shape the ball both ways and see shots that others don’t.
She has an innocence about her that is charming – thanking her caddy, Mark Wallington, for his help on every shot. While some players spent an age working out a line on the greens or what shot to hit, Charley just went up and hit her ball or putt with the minimum amount of fuss. One of my friends watching everything at home on TV summed it up beautifully when he said that Charley is everyone’s darling.