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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Europe go down fighting as US

take singles to win Solheim Cup

By Peter Dixon Sugar Grove, Illinois
Europe’s hopes of winning the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil came to nothing as the United States took complete control of the singles matches on the final day at Rich Harvest Farms.
Level with the United States on eight points after the first two days of four-balls and foursomes, Europe needed 6˝ points to regain a trophy they last held in 2003 — and at one point looked within reach.
Midway through, Europe had been up in six, down in five and all square in the other and were fighting for all they were worth. But their record in the singles in the previous 10 Solheim Cups — lost 63, won 40 and halved nine — did not augur well and in the end their challenge was swept away.
From the moment that Angela Stanford put the first point on the board for the home side, with a 5 and 4 victory over Becky Brewerton, things started to unravel for Europe.
Paula Creamer, out in the top match against Suzann Pettersen, secured a 3 and 2 win for the second point, courtesy of her opponent’s nervy putting from short distances, and then Michelle Wie added a third point with a one-hole victory over Helen Alfredsson.
What a week it turned out to be for Wie. A captain’s pick, the 19-year-old Hawaiian seemed to be the player the US team were hoping could lead the way. And no wonder. In four matches, she was unbeaten, winning three and halving the other.
Wie played wonderful, controlled golf over the first two days and looks finally to have everything in place. Her driving was long and, for the most part, straight. Her iron play — as witnessed by laser-sharp shots into the 2nd, 6th and 8th — was crisp and accurate and her putting was assured. She has had her detractors but finally, it seems, she has won them over.
Three up after six holes, it looked as if Wie would stroll to victory. But she had to dig deep after Alfredsson pulled level at the 11th. She never trailed, however, was dormie two after 16 and closed out the match with a birdie at the last.
Catriona Matthew claimed the first point for Europe, with a calm and assured 3 and 2 win over Kristy McPherson, but by this time the US were on a roll.
Laura Davies, playing in the fourth group, looked to have a point wrapped up after coming to the 17th tee leading by two holes, but she proceeded to lose the next two holes and with that went Europe’s dreams. Surely Laura's last Solheim Cup appearance.
With Juli Inkster fighting back from two down to take a half-point off Gwladys Nocera and with a 3 and 2 win for Brittany Lincicome over Sophie Gustafson, the United States moved into a 13-11 lead and needed just one point from the remaining four matches to win the cup for the eighth time in 11 attempts.
And it came from Morgan Pressel, who defeated Anna Nordqvist 3 and 2.