Pushing 50 and winless the last three years, Juli Inkster showed she still has some of the strokes that drove her to the top.
Now, she also has a record. For that, she can thank Paula Creamer.
Creamer knocked in a 20-foot putt late Friday to give the United States a 4 1/2-3 1/2 lead over Europe in the Solheim Cup and make Inkster the highest-scoring U.S. player in the event's history. The veteran now has 17 1/2 points, one more than assistant U.S. captain Meg Mallon.
So what does it mean?
"That just means I'm the oldest," Inkster said after her 2-and-1 win with Creamer in the afternoon foursome over Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie.
Jokes aside, Inkster called it a "great honor" and mentioned that when she turned pro, she figured she'd last about five years. That, by the way, was in 1983. Now, she's in the late stages of a Hall of Fame career that includes seven majors and 31 tour wins in all, but at 49 years old, there's a good chance this is her final Solheim Cup even though she hasn't said it will be.
It's not necessarily her choice, though.
The top 10 players in the Solheim Cup points standings automatically qualify for the U.S. team, but at 16th, she needed a captain's pick. Beth Daniel didn't hesitate to give Inkster one even though her most recent win was in 2006 and her best finish this year was a tie for 11th.
That decision paid off Friday when Inkster came through with some clutch iron shots and putts, picking up a crucial point with Creamer in the afternoon foursome as the Europeans were gaining momentum.
"I just feel really comfortable with Paula," said Inkster, who's 3-0 in foursomes. "She's a hell of a player, so it's pretty easy to ride a stallion (laughter), so I just kind of go out there and say 'giddy-up' and she goes. She reminds me a lot of me when I was her age."
And it was Inkster's approach to the 17th green that set up the go-ahead putt. At 2-up over Matthew and Moody, Creamer buried the 20-footer and ended the second round.
"There's not much break at all," said Creamer, who teamed with Cristie Kerr to beat Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson in the morning fourball play. "I played it straight. The biggest thing for me was getting it to the hole. It was a really slow putt. These greens, the last 10, 11 holes, they just kind of slowed up. I don't know if it was the heavy air. It seemed to me that I kept leaving putts just getting there, whereas in the morning they were going two-and-a-half, three feet by. We got a lot of dew on the greens. We talked about that out there. That was one putt I wasn't going to leave short, especially at that moment. I knew I had to make it."
When the ball fell in, Inkster dropped to her knees. Creamer pumped her fist, then hugged Inkster's caddie and embraced her teammate before the other American players made their way to the green.
Christina Kim waved a flag, and Creamer urged the gallery to cheer. Not that they really needed it.
Fans were loud for most of the day, chanting "USA! USA!" and cheering just about every big shot. They waved flags and wore shirts and jackets emblazoned with the red, white and blue, and one spectator even showed up dressed as the Statue of Liberty.
"We get to 11, 12, 13, and all of a sudden, everybody has got themselves out there, and it started to get really noisy," Europe's Maria Hjorth said. "We tried to do what we could to make putts to keep it as quiet as we can."
The Americans led by 1 1/2 points after fourball play and were looking to end the day with the lead before some drama. Natalie Gulbis and Christina Kim easily beat Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen and Inskter and Creamer were 3-up after 12 holes.
Inkster missed par putts on the next two holes, and the lead dwindled to one. With Becky Brewerton and Gwladys Nocera and Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist winning their matches right about the same time, the Europeans seemed to be grabbing the momentum.
Instead, Inkster nearly holed in a chip shot from 120 yards, sending it about a foot past the hole, and after halving the 16th hole, the worst the Americans could do was a half-point for the match. So they walked away with the lead after a long day, although they don't have much of a cushion.
"I'm absolutely delighted," European captain Alison Nicholas said. "It's time for bed, really, isn't it? Oh, dear, a long day. Fantastic."