HALMSTAD, Sweden — European Trish Johnson was shivering as she summed up the midday weather conditions on the second day of the Solheim Cup at Halmstad: “Horrible. Bloody horrible.” And she was just coming off the putting green. The sixteen women who were actually playing the morning foursomes had endured a two-hour delay to the start because of severe weather and then had to withstand cold blasts of wind that reached 35 mph. To further complicate things for the visiting Americans, the lack of rain and umbrellas meant the 32,000 mostly pro-European fans in attendance had their hands free to clap loudly whenever their compatriots did something good, which was often.
In the first match of the day, Gwladys Nocera and Maria Hjorth were 2-up over Sherri Steinhauer and Laura Diaz after five holes and 2-down 10 holes later. But they took advantage of the Americans’ bad lie in the woods to win the par-3 16th hole. Then on the 18th hole, Hjorth made a six-foot putt for an unanswered par for a half point.
Right behind them, Suzanne Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson came into 18 with the same opportunity. They also capitalized when Gustafson holed a five-foot par for birdie. With the Europeans and Americans splitting the other two matches, the U.S. remained just one point ahead of the Europeans (6.5 to 5.5) going into the afternoon four-ball competition. When play was called because of darkness with the first group through 11 holes, the Europeans were up in three matches and all square in one.
MATCH of the DAY: After making six straight bogeys on the front nine to go 4-down to Annika Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew, the American team of Nicole Castrale and Cristie Kerr might have thought they would never see the 16th hole, never mind the 18th. Things looked even bleaker when they went 5-down after two more bogeys in the next three holes. But on the 13th hole, the pair turned it around dramatically, making four birdies in the next five holes to carry the match to the final hole. After Castrale missed an eight-foot birdie putt, Matthew saved the point by making a three-foot putt for par. “I think our legs were shaking on that putt,” said Matthew. “It was only three feet, but it seemed a very long three feet.”
UPSET: There were no true upsets today, but Americans Pat Hurst and Angela Stanford came out with a big win with just one birdie and two bogeys on their last seven holes. Level with Iben Tinning and Bettina Hauert after 12 holes, the pair held it together as the Europeans suffered through a rough stretch on the back nine, where they made three bogeys and a double bogey. Hurst and Stanford won 4&2.
STAT: Through three and a half rounds, the only hole that has yet to be birdied is 16, which delivered two of the day’s three double bogeys.
QUOTE: Suzann Pettersen, on why she and Sophie Gustafson play so well together: “Like she said yesterday, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve seen worse.’ That helps.”