Christina Kim's victory was four years in the making.
The personable and outgoing _ some might call her loud _ American teamed with Natalie Gulbis to beat European heavyweights Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson 4-and-2 Friday afternoon. Not only did they give the U.S. team a critical point, they ended Gustafson's undefeated streak in foursomes.
Gustafson had been 4-0-4.
"It was pretty darn special out there," Kim said. "I had a wonderful time, and I had some great memories, having played with Natalie, both of us in our first Solheim together, and I couldn't have asked for a better partner. The energy out there was palpable. It was truly incredible."
Kim made an impressive debut at the 2005 Solheim Cup, going 2-1-1, including a foursomes win with Gulbis. But she didn't qualify for the 2007 squad and was passed over by U.S. captain Betsy King _ "deservedly," Kim said.
The disappointment has driven her these last two years, and Kim made every second of her day Friday count. She was one of the first Americans out on the first tee in the morning, revving up the crowd before the fourball matches went off. She played cheerleader, too, riding a cart around the course to root on the Americans.
But nothing could match her enthusiasm during her match with Gulbis.
The two got off to a fast start with birdies on the first two holes, and made the turn 3-up. When she needed to make a 10-footer to halve the 13th hole, she never faltered and was already holding her putter up in triumph before the ball found the hole. As the crowd roared, Kim nodded her head and said, "That's right."
When Gulbis got in trouble off the tee on 16, Kim bailed them out with a nice chip onto the green. The Europeans then conceded.
"I was chomping at the bit since 8:05 this morning sending off the groups, and I've still got a little bit of voice left in me for tomorrow," Kim said. "Going to save up."
SHE'S BAAAACK!: It might be a few years before Helen Alfredsson is considered for European captain again.
She's playing too well for the Europeans to lose her.
Alfredsson scored her first Solheim Cup points since 2002 on Friday, making a clutch putt on 18 to give her and rookie Tania Elosegui a 1-up fourball victory over Juli Inkster and Angela Stanford. It was the only match Europe won in the morning.
"I feel great that we walked away with a win," Alfredsson said.
Alfredsson served as Europe's captain two years, her playing career sidetracked by back and hamstring injuries. But the 44-year-old is healthy again, and is playing her best golf in years. She won the Evian Masters last year for a third time, and was runner-up at the U.S. Women's Open.
This year, she's got two top-10 finishes, including a tie for fifth at Evian.
And she gave Europe a huge early boost.
The Americans had already won two matches and were leading in a third by the time Alfredsson and Elosegui got to 18 with a 1-up lead. Alfredsson's second shot landed in the rough on the side of the green, and her chip shot ran to the bottom of the green. But she rolled her birdie putt in, yelling and giving an emphatic fist pump as the ball dropped into the cup.
"I knew we had to make birdie to win it," Alfredsson said. "It was a tough shot. But it was nice: I walked up to the putt and saw the line, and that's what I want."
The points were Alfredsson's first since she and Suzann Pettersen won their first foursomes match in 2002.
A QUIET GALLERY?: Other players couldn't get over the crowd's energy. Cristie Kerr expected more.
"The crowds out here, I think they need to get a whole lot louder," she said after teaming with Paula Creamer to beat Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson 1-up in the morning.
Fans cheered just about every big shot and chanted "U-S-A! USA!" They waved flags and wore shirts and jackets with the red, white and blue, but Kerr was expecting more noise. At 6,670 yards, Rich Harvest Farms is the longest course in Solheim Cup history, so that might have toned down the volume. There was also a big traffic jam from the highway to the course early in the morning.
"Maybe it's all the open spaces, but I think they'll get a little more fired up as the week goes on," Kerr said.
NO SHORTCUT: Laura Davies had the right idea.
In a deep hole to Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang in the morning fourballs, Davies tried to take a shortcut on the 12th hole. The dogleg on the 342-yard par-4 is so sharp it's practically a right angle, so the big hitter decided to go for the green off the tee _ never mind that cluster of towering trees in her way.
After waiting for the group in front to clear the green, Davies launched a booming shot. It cleared the trees, but landed well short of the green in a patch of weeds and leaves. No matter. Playing partner Becky Brewerton put her approach shot 5 feet above the hole, then knocked it in for a birdie to win the hole.
That was one of the lone highlights of the match for the Europeans. They took just two holes _ Brewerton won both of them _ and lost 5-and-4 to the Americans.
"Obviously disappointed. I've let Becky down today," Davies said. "I didn't hit enough fairways really. I hit two really poor tee shots, and apart from that, the good ones were going in the rough. You can't play this golf course in the rough, and she had no backup."
DIVOTS: Soccer great Mia Hamm was among the spectators. ... None of the afternoon matches went to the 18th hole. ... All 12 Americans played Friday while rookie Diana Luna was the only European who didn't get in a match.