HALMSTAD, Sweden (AP) — Another set of matches are in the books at the Solheim Cup and the Americans are still winning. Yet, once again, it feels as if the Europeans have a stranglehold on this event.
For the second straight day, Europe overcame nasty weather and late deficits to earn ties in two of four matches that had looked decidedly lost.
Instead of a big hole to climb out of, Europe split the four points in Saturday morning’s windblown foursome matches and entered the afternoon fourball trailing only 6 1/2 – 5 1/2.
The start of play was delayed by more than two hours because of 40 mph gusts that toppled fences overnight and had golf balls oscillating on the greens when the players arrived to warm up. The weather wasn’t much better when they finally took to the course.
On Friday, Europe’s comeback was sparked by Laura Davies, whose fantastic 50-foot par save on No. 16 helped earn a tie. That, along with another half-point in a comeback by Annika Sorenstam, kept Europe within a point after the first day.
On Saturday, it was McDonalds LPGA champion Suzann Pettersen who came up with the most memorable shot. Standing in the rough to the left of the 18th fairway, she played a big hook around some trees in her path and nearly skimmed the flagstick with a shot that stopped 4 feet from the hole.
Her teammate, Sophie Gustafson, made the putt to win the hole and earn a half-point in the match that Juli Inkster and Paula Creamer led after 17 holes.
Moments earlier, Maria Hjorth and Gwladys Nocera finished a rally from two holes down with three to play for a tie against Americans Sherri Steinhauer and Laura Diaz. Steinhauer missed a 3-foot putt that would have won the match, then Hjorth followed by making one of about the same length to complete the comeback.
Meanwhile, the Americans were en route to a rousing comeback of their own when Nicole Castrale and Cristie Kerr won four of five holes down the stretch against Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew to take their match from 5 down to the 18th hole.
But Castrale’s 6-foot birdie putt to tie barely curled out while Matthew made a testy 3-footer for par to help the Europeans escape with their lone victory of the morning.
The Americans also got a 4-and-2 victory from Pat Hurst and Angela Stanford over Iben Tinning and Bettina Hauert in the only match that didn’t come down to the 18th hole.
Indeed, not all the news was bad for the Americans. They have always been better at singles than the team games. The last two Solheim Cups they won came without having the lead heading into the final day.
There’s a good chance they will have the lead heading into Sunday. Because of the weather delay, afternoon matches didn’t start until 3:45 p.m. local time, meaning there was virtually no chance of completing the fourballs by dark.
Tournament officials planned to resume play early Sunday, then try to get in all 12 singles matches. The forecast Sunday called for calmer wind with a chance of rain.