North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew has had some great Solheim Cup moments. But the best yet came late yesterday at Colorado Golf Club when she holed a five-foot putt at the 18th to secure outright victory for Europe over the USA.
Moments earlier, Swede Caroline Hedwall had made sure that Europe would retain the trophy with a four-foot putt on the same green to defeat Michelle Wie by one hole.
With a one-hour weather delay adding to the final day drama, the sun was setting in Denver by the time the final score went up on the board. Europe beat the USA 18-10 – a record winning margin.
Europe went into the final day’s 12 singles 10 ½ - 5 ½ ahead and needing just 3½ points to retain the Cup.
Matthew had been behind all day to rookie Gerina Piller. But she won the short 17th with a par to draw level and the teaser at the last was good enough for the vital half point. For Matthew, it was another great Solheim memory. The 43-year-old Scot gained the winning point at Barseback in Sweden in 2003 and she has now won 5 ½ points in singles from her seven Solheims.
“I was told coming up the 18th that if I got a half we would win outright so I was kind of shaking,” said Matthew, the mum of two who had husband Graeme by her side as caddie.
“I made a great par at the 17th and then the five-footer for the half at the last. Being able to celebrate with 11 team-mates, the caddies and other helpers makes it far more exciting and more fun than an individual win.”
Matthew, the former Women’s British Open Champion, was full of praise for European captain, Liselotte Neumann.
“Lotta has done a great job,” continued the Scot. “She inspired us and instilled confidence. We don’t need much motivation to go out and play but she got the pairings absolutely right. The key was the rookies, and the 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.”
England’s Charley Hull led the way yesterday with a huge win over Paula Creamer.
But matches swung one way then another, and there was more drama when play was halted for thunder and lightning with Europe leading 13-7 and a tantalising one point from glory.
Before the one-hour delay, 17-year-old Hull, the youngest ever Solheim Cup player, had packed five birdies into 14 holes and beaten Creamer, the world No. 11, by 5&4.
“I wasn’t too nervous,” said the super-talented English teenager who won two out of three points. “I wasn’t too nervous. It’s always the way I look at golf, I’m not going to die if I hit a bad shot.”
Creamer, who lost 6 and 5 to Matthew in the top singles at Killeen Castle, was generous in defeat. “She played great but I just wish I could have given her more of a battle.
“The Solheim Cup seems to bring the best or the worst out in me and I just couldn’t hit a fairway on the front nine.”
Anna Nordqvist added a half point for Europe in the top match against the Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion, Stacy Lewis, and then Spanish rookie Carlota Ciganda brought the historic win even closer with a 4&2 triumph over Morgan Pressel.
Brittany Lang finally put a full point on the board for the USA with a 2&1 victory over Azahara Munoz.
Following the weather delay, Hedwall, who became the first player to win five out of five points, and Matthew did their stuff and after that everyone was playing for pride. Suzann Pettersen, Giulia Sergas and Karine Icher all had halved matches, Jodie Ewart-Sadoff beat Brittany Lincicome and Beatriz Recari took her point against Angela Stanford.
Hedwall, whose victory secured the trophy for the first time on US soil, was Europe’s top scorer, while rookie Ciganda had a 100 per cent record from three starts. Recari also scored three points out of four while everyone contributed at least half a point. Matthew had two halves from her four starts.
Singles: (Europe first): Anna Nordqvist halved with Stacy Lewis; Charley Hull beat Paula Creamer 5 and 4; Azahara Munoz lost to Brittany Lang 2 and 1; Carlota Ciganda beat Morgan Pressel 4 and 2; Caroline Hedwall beat Michelle Wie one hole; Catriona Matthew halved with Gerina Piller; Suzann Pettersen halved with Lizette Salas; Giulia Sergas halved with Jessica Korda; Caroline Masson lost to Lexi Thompson 4 and 3; Jodi Ewart-Shadoff beat Brittany Lincicome 3 and 2;Beatriz Recari beat Angela Stanford 2 and 1;Karine Icher halved with Cristie Kerr. Europe 7 ½ USA 4 ½
Final score: Europe 18 USA 10