Nine factors that shaped the Solheim Cup
1. AMERICA’S BRILLIANCE
At some point, hopefully, we will move on from Suzann Pettersen’s momentary lapse of judgement and sing the praises of the Americans on Sunday.
Juli Inkster employed a modified pod system to the one Paul Azinger used at the 2008 Ryder Cup, which was based on personalities, and it worked – just.
Whatever the reasons for the American turnaround there was some incredible scoring when it was most needed. Take Cristie Kerr for example.
She had previously won just one singles in seven outings but, from three down early on, she produced nine birdies in 12 holes to stop Charley Hull posting a fifth straight point.
In the match behind Michelle Wie was eight under in demolishing Caroline Hedwall. MT
2. CATRIONA’S ENDURING EXCELLENCE
Still a captain’s dream in terms of her flexibility. In the last five matches Matthew has had 12 different partners, here she picked up three out of three with Karine Icher and Sandra Gal.
Had Europe played a rookie then it would be a safe bet that they would have been blooded alongside the Scot. A marvel at 46. MT
3. STACY’S SIDEKICK: PUMPED-UP PILLER
Getting the best out of former World No 1 Stacy Lewis in the Solheim Cup has been a recurring headache for US captains. They may finally have found the answer in the shape of Gerina Piller.
The pair teamed up for two wins on Saturday and Piller appeared to be a star in the making. Just as importantly, Lewis looked as comfortable as she routinely does in individual competition.
The previously unbeatable Nordqvist/Hedwall combination was sent packing in the Saturday foursomes and Hedwall, this time alongside Masson, had to endure another defeat in the afternoon fourballs.
Piller, who had begun her week by teaming up with Lang for a Friday half in the fourballs, went on to beat Masson again in the singles. DM
4. THE MATCH OF THE WEEKEND
Ciganda/Reid v Thompson/Kerr: Where do you start with a match that spanned almost 20 hours, went to the final green and saw only two scores worse than four. In all, there were an amazing 18 birdies and two eagles as both sides posted identical betterballs of 61.
The Americans opened up birdie, eagle to go 2up. The Europeans clawed it back to level after 11 only to lose the next two to birdies. The USA consolidated with a half on the 14th and at two up with four to play you would have thought there was no way back.
Reid and Ciganda were having none of it, rousing themselves to finish birdie, eagle, birdie. It ended with Reid and Thompson draining putts on the 18th to ensure neither side went away empty-handed. DM
5. REID’S REDEMPTION
After the death of her mother Joy in Germany three years ago Mel Reid had hated returning to the country. This week she surrounded herself with friends and family and planned to build some new memories. She did it in style too.
The Derby star was spectacularly good, teaming up with new partners Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda for two wins and a half, and then was one of only three Europeans to prevail in the singles.
She celebrated her 28th birthday on the Saturday, it will have been another nice memory. MT
6. STANFORD’S BRAVE STAND
There was an element of fate here: Angela Stanford taking on Suzann Pettersen in the singles. The American’s last victory had come in the singles against Becky Brewerton in 2009, since then there had been nine straight defeats and a load of criticism.
And then the Texan drew Public Enemy No 1 in Pettersen in Match No 8. The 37-year-old made six birdies and didn’t drop a shot, en route to victory at the 17th, the scene of the Norwegian’s silliness earlier in the day.
“It’s the coolest team I’ve ever been a part of and they never quit believing,” she said.
“I had another tough week and they just said we’re going to keep believing. They were awesome.” MT
7. HEDWALL’S FALL FROM GRACE
It was hard to watch the Swede at times, not least when Europe desperately needed a point from the bottom of the singles draw and our first view of Hedwall came when she was five down to Wie early in the back nine.
It is true that Wie was an estimated -8 when the pair shook hands on the 14th green but Hedwall was never in the match.
You can see why Koch was desperate to show trust in the player who made history by winning all five games in Colorado but history was never going to repeat itself here. It was surely a mistake to send her out in the Saturday foursomes. DM
8. KOCH’S CURIOUS PAIRINGS
Had Europe gone on to complete the job then there would be very little second guessing of the captain’s partnerships, particularly pairings that had built up a fourpoint advantage with their heroic efforts. But here we go anyway.
On the first morning we were told how Mel Reid and Charley Hull had got to play with one another as they’d hoped for – they won 2&1 but were never reunited. Gwladys Nocera missed all of Saturday having recorded a 3&2 win on the Friday.
In the two formats not one pairing was repeated and, again, this is easy to say in hindsight, but there was probably too much leniency on 2013 heroine Caroline Hedwall who was out of form and touch. MT
9. LAMENTABLE PACE OF PLAY
There was so much to admire in this Solheim Cup that it may sound churlish to raise a complaint. However, the pace of play was simply unacceptable.
You would think that 12 hours of Saturday play was enough to conclude the remaining three holes from Friday’s matches and then conclude a normal day of foursomes and fourballs.
Sadly not, and players from both sides had a lot to answer for. Sadly, the only language the slow players understand is being penalised shots (or holes in this case). DM