Hedwall, Hull help Europeans retain Solheim Cup
Parker, CO – Caroline Hedwall closed out the first unbeaten week in event history and Charley Hull scored a huge early win on Sunday as the Europeans easily retained the Solheim Cup, 18-10.
The Europeans won for the first time on American soil, and won back-to-back matches for the first time in event history.
"It's just a fantastic feeling right now. I'm just so proud of them. They played such good golf this week," said European captain Liselotte Neumann. "I'm proudest at how we stayed together as a team. They've just played tremendous golf."
Hedwall earned a hard-fought 1-up win over Michelle Wie to give the Europeans enough points to retain the Cup. Hedwall, who was the only player to play all five sessions this week, became the first player in event history to go 5-0.
Catriona Matthew halved her match with Gerina Piller to officially clinch the Cup for the Europeans.
Hull trounced Paula Creamer, 5 & 4, to give the Europeans an early boost.
"I felt like I was playing good the last few weeks coming into the tournament, and then I kind of let myself go," said Hull, the youngest player in event history. "After the first day, I got used to the golf course and I just relaxed and made quite a few birdies the last few days. I just hit it and find it, and hit it again."
After Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis halved the first match, Carlota Ciganda closed out a 4 & 2 win over Morgan Pressel.
Brittany Lang fended off Azahara Munoz for a 2 & 1 decision to give the Americans a glimmer of hope, but Hedwall held off Wie and Matthew earned a halve to close out the Americans.
"It's just an unbelievable feeling and it's so great. There are no words to be honest," Hedwall said. "I was a little mentally tired, but at the same time I was pumped up. I just managed to pull it off."
United States captain Meg Mallon went 5-3 in eight Solheim Cups as a player, but couldn't lead the Americans to victory as captain.
"You have to give all the credit to the Europeans. They played unbelievable golf. They made the putts, they made the shots. You make hole-in-ones, chip in, hole it from the bunkers. We just didn't have the putts drop for us," Mallon said.
Hull and Creamer were the second match to hit the course, but was the first to finish. Creamer won the second when Hull missed a 4-footer for par. Unfortunately for Creamer, that was the only hole she would win.
The 17-year-old Hull squared the match with an 18-foot birdie effort at three. Hull missed a short putt at four to remain all square, but she converted back- to-back birdies at six and seven to go 2-up.
Hull missed another short one at eight, but was conceded par and the win at the ninth. She took a 3-up lead to the back nine. Creamer missed a birdie try at 10, then Hull pulled away taking the next two holes.
Creamer holed a bunker shot for par, but Hull made a 5-footer for par to halve the hole to remain 5-up with five to go. They halved the next and the Europeans had the first point.
"She played great. I wish I could have given her a little bigger battle," Creamer said. "That's what this is about, going out and playing so good golf. I didn't bring it today."
Lewis, the second-ranked player in the world, fought back late, but it wasn't enough. She birdied the seventh and parred the 10th to square the match.
Nordqvist took the 11th when Lewis 3-putted for bogey. Lewis came right back with birdies on 12 and 14 to go 1-up. Nordqvist fought back with a 10-foot birdie effort at 17 to even things up. After Lewis chipped to seven feet, Nordqvist rolled her birdie putt to tap-in range and was conceded her par. Lewis drained her putt to halve the match.
"I looked at the board and saw the red flags and I couldn't let a blue one go up," admitted Lewis. "I don't know how I got that up and down at 18, but I had to get that half point. We both played great and deserved that halve."
In match No. 4, Ciganda and Pressel traded wins at two and three. After five halves in a row, Ciganda took the ninth and made a 4-footer at 13 to go 2-up. She closed out the match with birdies at 15 and 16.
With the Europeans within a point of retaining the Cup, Lang fended off Munoz to give the Americans a little hope.
There were three key matches coming to a head when play was halted due to lightning in the area. Wie and Hedwall were in the fifth match out, and was the fifth to finish.
Hedwall led most of the front nine, but Wie took eight and nine to take a 1-up lead. Wie missed a 4-footer for par at 13 to square the match. Wie took the 15th, but Hedwall responded to take the 16th.
After they teed off 17, the delay stopped play. They both made par when play resumed. Hedwall stuffed her approach within five feet at 18, then Wie hit hers to 20 feet. Wie missed her birdie try on the right edge.
Hedwall drained her birdie putt to become the first player to go 5-0 in one Solheim Cup. That also gave the Europeans 14 points, which meant the worst they could do was halve the match and retain the Cup.
Lexi Thompson closed out a strong 4 & 3 win over Caroline Masson to delay the European celebration momentarily.
Matthew trailed Piller 2-down three times in the sixth match, but birdied the 14th to get within 1-down. After the delay, they halved the 16th with birdies, before Matthew squared the match with a birdie on No. 17. Matthew made a 3- footer on 18 to halve the match and give the Europeans 14 1/2 points and their second straight win in the event.
From there, it was just a matter of the final score.
Suzann Pettersen 3-putted for bogey at 18 to halve her match with Lizette Salas. Jessica Korda led for 14 holes, but Giulia Sergas birdied the last to halve their match.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff took down Brittany Lincicome 3 & 2, then Beatriz Recari topped Angela Stanford, 2 & 1.
Long after things were decided, Cristie Kerr and Karine Icher battled until the last hole. Kerr earned her first lead with a birdie at 15, but Icher answered at 16. They halved 17, then conceded each others birdies while the celebration for the Europeans went on around the 18th green.
NOTES: The eight-point win was the largest in event history ... The Europeans with six rookies became the fifth team in the history of the event to win with more rookies on the team ... Neumann's four captains picks were 8-4-1, while Mallon's two captains picks were 2-4-1.