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Monday, August 24, 2009

'Awesome' Catriona Matthew is praised by

losing captain Alison Nicholas

Scots Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie both did the business for Europe by adding points to the board in the singles but their heroic efforts couldn't stop the United States from retaining the Solheim Cup in the most dramatic of final days at Rich Harvest Farms near Chicago.
With the sides tied at 8-8 going into the 12 singles, Alison Nicholas's European underdogs had sights on an upset that would have matched the home victory in the second match at Dalmahoy all of 17 years ago. But an historic win failed to materialise as the Americans' greater strength in depth proved to be just good enough for Beth Daniel's side to clinch a 16-12 victory that was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Half of the singles went to the final hole. It was 21-year-old Morgan Pressel, a Major winner when she was just 18, who had the honour of claiming the winning point in the 11th tie when she beat Anna Nordqvist by 3 and 2.
Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford and teenage superstar Michelle Wie with a thrilling final green win over Helen Alfredsson all put red USA points on the board before the ever reliable Matthew struck a blow with a 3 and 2 win over Kristy McPherson.
The North Berwick golfer, who won the Ricoh Women's British Open at the start of the month, was in control all the way against the rookie and finished her fifth Solheim with a win and two half points from her four outings.
"It was a great week and just a pity that we couldn't quite pull it off," she said. "They were the strong favourites, but it was really close all week."
Moodie, in the last match, led all the way against Natalie Gulbis, but lost the 16th and 17th and they called it a half at the 18th.
It was a ding-dong battle throughout a gloriously sunny final afternoon, but the tide started to turn in the home team's favour when Laura Davies, who has played in all 11 Solheims, lost the final two holes to finish with only half a point from the fourth match against rookie Brittany Lang.
Juli Inkster also came from behind to take a half point from Gwladys Nocera and then a 3 and 2 win from Brittany Lincicome over Sophie Gustafson set up Pressel for the glorious finale.
The Florida girl made the score 14-10 in the US favour, and Christina Kim went on to add another full point that was topped up by halves from Gulbis and Cristie Kerr.
The final singles score was 8-4 for the defending champions. The only other European to win a full point was Diana Luna, the first Italian to play in the Solheim, with a 3 and 2 triumph over Nicole Castrale, who was the only player on either side to finish without even half a point.
On Saturday, Luna had joined Matthew in a half point in the four-balls, and she paid tribute to the Scot. "Catriona was just great, I couldn't have asked for a better partner in my first match," she said. "The pressure this week has been unbelievable."
Nicholas admitted: "I was so proud of my team. It was so close all afternoon and it just seemed to turn in their favour during the last half hour. But I thought our team played really well. "Catriona was awesome and our rookies showed how much talent we have on the Ladies' European Tour. My side battled hard but, unfortunately, it just wasn't quite good enough."
As for Matthew, she will celebrate her 40th birthday tomorrow by heading west to Portland in Oregon for the LPGA Tour's Safeway Classic.

(USA names first):
United States 8, Europe 4
Paula Creamer bt Suzann Pettersen 3 & 2.
Angela Stanford bt Becky Brewerton 5 & 4.
Michelle Wie bt Helen Alfredsson 1 hole.
Brittany Lang halved with Laura Davies.
Juli Inkster halved with Gwladys Nocera.
Kristy McPherson lost to Catriona Matthew 3 & 2.
Brittany Lincicome bt Sophie Gustafson 3 & 2.
Nicole Castrale lost to Diana Luna 3 & 2.
Christina Kim bt Tania Elosegui 2 holes.
Cristie Kerr halved with Maria Hjorth.
Morgan Pressel bt Anna Nordqvist 3 & 2.
Natalie Gulbis halved with Janice Moodie

United States 16, Europe 12