Caroline Hedwall is perfect, and Europe finally wins the Solheim Cup on American soil
PARKER, Colo. – The Europeans wanted to make history by winning the Solheim Cup on American soil for the first time.
They did even better than that.
Caroline Hedwall became the first player in Solheim Cup history to win all five of her matches, the last one with a splendid shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 18th for a 1-up win over Michelle Wie that assured Europe of keeping the cup.
More than an hour later, Cristie Kerr and Karine Icher played all the way to the 18th green until conceding each other birdies. That half-point made it 18-10 in favor of Europe, the biggest blowout since the Solheim Cup began in 1990.
And the Europeans did it with six rookies on their team, who combined to go 12-5-2.
Catriona Matthew, at 43 the oldest player on the team, rallied to halve her match against Gerina Piller that gave Europe 14½ points and an outright win in America.
"It's a fantastic feeling right now," European captain Liselotte Neumann said. "I'm so proud of them. They played such good golf this week. They just played tremendous golf."
Charley Hull, the youngest player in Solheim Cup history at 17, capped off her amazing week by demolishing Paula Creamer in a match that set the tone for Europe. Carlota Ciganda handed Morgan Pressel her first lost in singles in four appearances to go 3-0 for the week.
Not even a one-hour delay due to lightning in the area could damper this European celebration. Suzann Pettersen was lining up her putt on the 16th hole when she heard the cheers from the 18th, got the news and began pumping her fist.
"The way we played 16, 17 and 18 I think is what really made the difference," U.S. captain Meg Mallon said. "It wasn't for lack of preparation because we played this golf course quite a bit. So it wasn't like a surprise for us. It was just a matter of who dropped the putts on those holes. And unfortunately, it was the Europeans."
Europe won 17 holes during that three-hole stretch this week, compared with 10 for the Americans.
Europe still trails 8-5 in the competition, but this was the first time it has won back-to-back.
Matthew holed the winning the putt, but the Europeans really won Saturday afternoon when they swept the fourballs matches to build a 10½-5½ lead, matching the largest margin going into Sunday.
Raucous cheering on the first tee raised American hopes of the greatest comeback in Solheim Cup history.
Once they got on the golf course, it was a hopeless cause.
Mallon stacked some of her best players at the top of the lineup with hopes of filling the leaderboard with red scores and building momentum. Europe was ahead early four of the opening five matches.
Brittany Lang delivered a point, though she had a tussle with Azahara Munoz until winning on the 17th.
Stacy Lewis, in the opening singles match, didn't take her first lead against Anna Nordqvist until driving the green on the par-4 14th for a birdie. But the closing stretch belonged to Europe, as it had all week. Lewis missed an 8-foot birdie on the 16th for a chance to go 2 up, and the Swede found more magic on the 17th. One day after her hole-in-one, she holed a 20-foot birdie putt to square the match, and Lewis had to make a 7-foot par to get a half-point.
Ciganda, the Spanish rookie who couldn't break 80 in her opening fourballs match, finished with five straight birdies to pull away from Pressel.
Europe's biggest boost came from its youngest star.
Hull, playing like she had been here many times before, dropped in a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 6 to take her first lead, and she demoralized Creamer from there. The English teen hit an approach to 8 feet for birdie on the seventh, won the ninth when Creamer made double bogey and went 5 up when Creamer missed a short putt. The matched ended on the 14th in pars, and Hull's week was over with two wins in three matches.
"I didn't really feel that nervous, to be honest," Hull said. "Because this is how I always look at golf — I'm not going to die if I miss it. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again."
Indeed, she made it look that simple.
Creamer has not made it beyond the 14th hole in singles losses the last two Solheim Cups.
Hull only showed her age at the end. She took a marker from her bag and asked Creamer if she could sign a golf ball for a friend back home. "He's a big fan, so I thought I might as well get one," Hull said.