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Europe ahead by 1 at Solheim Cup

Europe captured 2 1/2 points in Friday's ball matches to take a one-point edge over the Americans after day one of the Solheim Cup.

Europe leads the competition 4 1/2 - 3 1/2 at Killeen Castle.

The final match in Friday's four-balls determined the outcome for the day.

Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist took out a strong American pair of Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie, 2-up.

The first point of the session also went to Europe when Sophie Gustafson and impressive rookie Caroline Hedwall trounced the U.S. duo of captain's pick Vicky Hurst and Brittany Lincicome, 5 & 4, in the third match.

The leadoff team for the Americans, Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer, won the last two holes Friday to stun the European squad of Laura Davies and Melissa Reid, 1-up.

Ryann O'Toole, a heavily criticized pick by American captain Rosie Jones, and Christina Kim, who earned points toward making this team just once in 2011, fought hard on Friday and won 16 and 17 to earn a halve against Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal.

Despite the one-point lead, Friday could be something of a disappointment for the Europeans. They squandered leads in seven of the eight matches on Friday and Creamer twice overcame 1-down deficits with two to play to get full points.

"I saw there was a lot of blue, but knowing all these Americans, they're always managing to turn it around and sneak in a point here and there," said Pettersen."

A lead is still a lead and the cushion came from Europe's best player.

In fading light, the anchor match was all-square, although Pettersen had a six-footer lip out at the 14th that could've given the Europeans a 1-up advantage.

They got it at the very next hole thanks to a birdie. After a halve at 16, Wie drove into the water at the 17th, leaving Kerr alone against the Europeans. Wie eventually took a drop and hit a great third shot, but Kerr had a birdie look. She missed, but so did Nordqvist, who converted a three-footer to halve the hole.

Kerr was the first to hit her approach at 18 and her ball rolled off to the right fringe. Nordqvist's second bounced just through the green, then Pettersen, No. 2 in the world, hit a beautiful iron just over the flag 18 feet past the hole.

Wie disappointed with an approach that landed near Kerr's ball.

Nordqvist chipped to concession range, so the Europeans were guaranteed par and the Americans needed birdie to have any chance for a halve. Wie was first and didn't come close. Kerr didn't either and after her chip stopped, she walked over and hugged Pettersen to give the Europeans the match and the lead.

"The afternoon match definitely gave us, the team, some momentum going into tomorrow," said Nordqvist. "It was a fight out there. It was tough conditions. It's been a long day, so I think everyone is tired."

The first match was a classic with the American side jumping out to a 1-up lead on the first hole. Pressel and Creamer were 2-up, but the Europeans won Nos. 9 and 10 to square the match.

Reid had a chance to give her team a 1-up lead, but her six-foot birdie try at 14 lipped out of the hole. One hole later, the veteran Davies sank a six-foot birdie putt to win the hole and give her side its first advantage of the match.

Davies made a 10-foot par save at the 16th to halve the hole and preserve a 1- up lead. Creamer squared things at the 17th when her 15-foot birdie putt fell into the hole.

With the two teams all-square with one to play, Pressel stepped up and drained a 25-footer for birdie at 18. Both Europeans were inside Pressel's ball and Davies was first. Her birdie try from 15 feet never threatened the hole, so that left it up to Solheim Cup rookie Reid.

The Englishwoman had 12 feet to halve the hole and the match, but her putt lipped out and the Americans snatched a full point.

"Both times, I told Morgan walking to 17, I was 1-down. I said we're not losing. We're halving," Creamer said. "Obviously, you want a win, but a halve is just as big as a win. The putt on 18 to get a full point was huge."

Creamer and Lincicome came back on Friday morning against Karen Stupples and Reid and comebacks were still the order for match two in the afternoon.

Once again, it was the Americans and their putters.

Kim and O'Toole built a 2-up lead through five, but Europe moved past the U.S. side and was 2-up after 12 holes.

With four holes to go, Europe was still 2-up, but the American pair cut the gap in half with a birdie at 16. O'Toole rolled in a long birdie putt at the 17th and the match was suddenly all-square.

All four players had decent looks at birdie at the last, but no one could convert. Gal had the best chance, but her putt stayed above ground. The German rookie had to make a three-footer to earn the halve and she did just that.

"They birdied 16, 17, obviously, we were disappointed being 2-up with three to go," said Matthew. "But to make birdies on tricky holes like 16, there's not much you can do."

Hedwall played well beyond her experience on Friday. She was brilliant and her and Gustafson never relinquished their lead. The Europeans made par to win the third, then Hedwall especially, built a comfortable cushion.

When Hedwall rolled in a 12-foot par putt on the 14th, it was enough for the impressive victory.

NOTES: On Saturday, there will be four more foursomes matches in the morning and four four-ball matches in the afternoon...There will be 12 singles matches on Sunday...Europe needs 14 1/2 points to win the Cup for the first time since 2003...The U.S. needs 14 points to keep the Cup after winning the last three...Europe's Christel Boeljon was the only player who didn't tee it up on Friday.