Mickey Walker: My highlights from an unforgettable 2013
1 CARLOTTA’S GREAT ESCAPE
The top match in Friday’s fourballs saw Suzann Pettersen and Carlotta Ciganda taking on Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson. On the par-5 15th, with Suzann out of the hole, Stacy and Lexi both had good birdie opportunities. Carlotta, who had hardly hit a fairway or green all afternoon, had to wait nearly 45 minutes for a ruling before hitting her recovery shot out of the rough, over trees on to the edge of the green and proceeding to hole her putt for a par. Inevitably the Americans both missed. It irritated the heck out of the Americans and Europe went on to win at the last.
2. ANNA’S ACE
In the Saturday morning foursomes between Swedish duo Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall and Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda, with Europe one up and one to play, Anna stood on the 17th tee and recorded the first hole-in-one in Solheim Cup history. Unsurprisingly Jessica Korda could not match it, the quartet shook hands and Europe won another close and exciting tussle.
3. JODI AND CHARLEY
Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Charley Hull v Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson. This was one of those matches – on a par with the fourball match at Barseback between Annika and Suzann and Laura Diaz and Kelly Robbins. Lexi and Paula were round in 65, Jodi and Charley 63! The key moment was again on the 17th when, with the pin on the front left, and Lexi having hit her tee shot to within six feet, Charley then hit her shot to within four feet. Lexi missed and Charley made her putt to pave the way for another European win on the 18th green.
4. THE UNSUNG HEROINES
On Saturday afternoon in the fourballs, after America had clawed back some of Europe’s advantage by winning the morning foursomes matches, it was essential that Europe got a good start to hopefully go into the final singles matches with a lead. After Lotta Neumann had taken the unprecedented step of resting most of her top players and playing five of her six rookies, many thought that her strategy would backfire.
Well not only did the rookies deliver, brilliantly led by Jodi and Charley’s win, to be followed by a wonderful recovery from Azahara Munoz and Carlotta Ciganda against Gerina Piller and Angela Stanford after being four down at the turn to win on the 18th. Next up the two Carolines – Hedwall and Masson – beat the long- hitting duo of Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda. To round things off all afternoon it had looked as if the very strong pairing of Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel would get at least a half against Beatriz Recari and Karine Icher. Karine then holed a 35 footer from off the back edge to give Europe an amazing clean sweep and an unassailable five-point lead.
It seems wrong somehow to mention just six highlights from such an unforgettable week. 5. WHEN CHARLEY MET PC
Every team have their ‘top’ players and when the singles draw pitted one of America’s toughest competitors in Paula Creamer against Europe’s youngest, Charley Hull, in the second match I’m sure that many people silently notched up a point to America. If you’re one of those who mentally gave America this point, then shame on you! From the moment that Charley walked onto the 1st tee and quite genuinely complimented Paula on the way she was dressed, to the moment that the match finished on the 14th green and Charley asked Paula if she would autograph her ball for her friend James, who was back home in England watching on TV, there was only one winner. Not many Americans would have known who Charley Hull was at the start of the Solheim Cup. They do now!
6. HEDWALL’S FIVE STARS
Some of the American fans and media pundits thought that Michelle Wie shouldn’t have been one of American captain Meg Mallon’s wild card picks. I wasn’t one of the sceptics and indeed Michelle ended the matches with a tally of two points and the second best record of any of the Americans. In the singles Michelle was drawn against Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall in the fifth match. Bearing in mind that Caroline was the only European to have played in five matches, some thought that could have been a mistake, but no, Caroline had asked Lotta to play her.
The Hedwall vs Wie match was a cracker, with first one and then the other edging ahead. With the match being all-square on the 18th tee, it took a spectacular second to three feet or so by Caroline and then a courageous putt to birdie the hole and become the only player in Solheim Cup history to win all five of her matches. I almost felt sorry for Michelle, who must have been remembering Suzann Pettersen’s final birdie in Kileen Castle which was instrumental in Europe’s victory in 2011.
It seems wrong somehow to mention just six highlights from such an unforgettable week. In fact I could fill the whole of our magazine with my thoughts and memories from this year’s historic first year on American soil, but that would be very greedy! I’ll just have to keep reliving them whenever I have the opportunity!! I will be watching Sky’s two-hour Solheim Cup special that will be shown over Christmas time though!
7. OUR VETS PERFORMED
The European team had two very experienced players who also happened to be their two players with the highest world ranking positions – Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, at the time third in the world rankings, and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew who was 10th. Both players were playing in their seventh Solheim Cup.
Whilst Suzann more points on her CV after her two matches on Friday, Catriona hadn’t added to her tally having lost her morning foursomes match playing with Jodi Ewart and then her afternoon fourball match with Charley Hull.
No matter how good a player you are, I think that there is additional pressure when you’re sent out with rookies, and no disrespect to Jodi but once she had missed a short putt on the 1st hole, in foursomes it was always going to be tough for her to quickly get her confidence back after that start.
Lotta once again trusted her eldest lieutenant when in the Saturday morning foursomes she paired Catriona with another rookie, Caroline Masson. This time they managed a very hard fought half. I felt that it was entirely fitting in the singles that it was Catriona who secured the winning half point that secured Europe’s unforgettable first ever victory on American soil.