Two years ago at Killen Castle in County Meath, Ireland, the European team staged a comeback on the final day in singles play to stun the United States team and win the Solheim Cup.
Now it looks as if the Americans will have to show their comeback ability to avoid their first loss on U.S. soil as the Europeans grabbed a 5-3 lead after foursome and four-ball matches Aug. 16 on the first day of the Solheim Cup competition at Colorado Golf Club in Parker.
The European team won three of four alternate shot matches in the morning but the Americans played better in the afternoon, going 2-2 in the four-ball round to stay close in the biennial match-play tournament.
Team USA will have two days to rally with foursome and four-ball matches set Aug. 17 and 12 singles matches scheduled for Aug. 18.
“We knew we had to get some points in the afternoon,” said Cristie Kerr. “It would have been great to get another point in the afternoon but we hung tough and we’re coming out strong Saturday.”
Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang got the Stars and Stripes rolling in the afternoon with a 4 and 3 best ball win over Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas. Lang rolled in her third birdie on No. 15 to clinch the win. Kerr and Michelle Wie earned the second American four-ball win with a 2 and 1 conquest of Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull. Kerr, who got her putts to drop in the afternoon, had eight birdies in 17 holes and Wie made five birdies, including a chip-in on No. 13.
America’s Stacy Lewis, the British Open champion and Rolex Rankings No. 2 player from Toledo, Ohio, lost twice and saw her Solheim Cup record dip to 1-5-0.
Lewis and Lexi Thompson were tied with Suzann Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda on the 15th hole and appeared to be in position to take the lead but a delay of over 30 minutes for a ruling on Ciganda’s ball that landed in the rough seemed to stall the Americans. Ciganda made a good recovery to half the hole and Petterson birdied No. 16 which gave the Europeans the margin for a 1-up win.
U.S. captain Meg Mallon and European captain Liselotte Neumann were in discussions about the officials’ ruling on Ciganda’s wayward shot long after play had ended.
Team USA struggled in the Solheim Cup’s opening round alternate-shot format in the morning.
Solheim rookie Jessica Korda was so nervous teeing off in front of the large, vociferous crowd on the first hole that she headed toward the trees walking down the fairway and vomited.
Morgan Pressel and Korda did collect the lone Team USA morning point with a 2 and 1 victory over Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff.
“I looked at her and said, some day when you are captain of this team you can tell your team this story of what happened to you on your first Solheim Cup,” said Pressel who improved her Solheim record to 8-2-2.
“We both played really solid. We made a lot of pars. Alternate shot is a tough format on a tough golf course.”
Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, nicknamed the Swedish Vikings, got the Europeans off the a good start with a 4 and 2 triumph over Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas and the momentum continued until the afternoon round started.
“Any point we can get is important,” said Hedwall. “It was nice to see a European point early.”