Solheim Cup: Europe one point ahead after USA stage late rally at Gleneagles

Captains Catriona Matthew and Juli Inkster ensured that all 12 of their players saw some action on day one under sunny skies at Gleneagles, and both teams produced a mixed-bag of golf with Europe’s greater consistency proving the marginal difference.

One point ahead after the morning foursomes, Europe avoided a repeat of their opening-day fourballs whitewash in Ohio two years ago and looked on course to open up a three-point advantage when they led in two matches going up the par-five 18th.

But a last-ditch birdie from Lexi Thompson denied Bronte Law and Carlota Ciganda, who had been two down with four to play in a match in which the lead changed hands seven times, while Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz frittered away a four-hole lead with six to play and had to settle for a half when Brittany Altomare holed a 20-foot putt for birdie at the last.

Suzann Pettersen went a long way to justifying her wildcard selection when she combined well with Dutch rookie Anne van Dam, whose three birdies in four holes put them on course for a comfortable 4&2 win over the feisty Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas, although the issue of slow play was again raised as it took them over five hours to play 16 holes.

But Swedish stalwarts Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall made only one birdie as they were comprehensively outplayed by late call-up Ally McDonald and Angel Yin, who cruised to a record-equalling 7&5 win which put the first red on the board in the afternoon session.

Law and Ciganda followed up their morning half-point with a valiant come-from-behind performance against Thompson and Jessica Korda, the European pair making three straight birdies to turn a two-hole deficit into a one-up lead going up the last, but the home pair were unable to match Thompson’s birdie four.

And, with light fading fast over Perthshire, Hull and Munoz were denied a 100 per cent record on day one when Nelly Korda and Altomare birdied the final three holes to snatch another priceless half for Inkster’s team.

The Korda sisters had earlier created history as the first siblings to play with each other in the competition, and they produced an outstanding performance to crush Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson 6&4 in match three, but that proved the lone win for the holders as Europe headed into the afternoon fourballs with a 2.5-1.5 advantage.

Law’s first taste of Solheim Cup action resulted in a battling half with Ciganda in the top match against Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex, before Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier put the first blue on the board with a 2&1 win over Thompson and Altomare – Thompson’s first defeat in the event since 2013.

Hull and Munoz rounded off an encouraging morning for Matthew’s team with a hard-fought 2&1 victory over Megan Kang and Annie Park in the anchor match, although the European pair made only one birdie in an encounter that was short on quality.

Matthew did spring a surprise with her afternoon line-up when she rested Hall and ensured that all 12 of her players would see some action on the first day, while Inkster also selected the four players that sat out the foursomes, although she also separated the jubilant Korda sisters.

But Inkster would have been the happier captain as the first day’s action finally ended in freezing conditions, with their two late halved matches preventing a sizeable lead for Matthew’s squad heading into day two.

2019-09-14T07:06:05+00:00By |

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