Late rally gives Europe the Solheim Cup

Europe won the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003 on Sunday thanks to three spectacular rallies late in the singles.

Suzann Pettersen, Europe's best player, and Michelle Wie engaged in an epic battle, but Pettersen won 1-up after three straight birdies to close out the match.

Caroline Hedwall was 2-down with two to play against captain's pick Ryann O'Toole, but Hedwall won the last two holes, thanks to a pair of O'Toole bogeys.

Hedwall's halve gave Europe 14 points, but with Azahara Munoz 1-up with one to play against Angela Stanford in the last match on the course and guaranteed at least a halve, Europe was assured the necessary 14 1/2 points needed for victory.

"I've got no words," European captain Alison Nichols said on TV. "We had some great performances coming in. It can do no more than elevate women's golf."

Munoz won the final match 1-up to make the final margin 15-13 in favor of Europe.

"It came down to those last two matches. It's so emotional," American captain Rosie Jones said in a televised interview.

It was actually the last three matches that proved to be the difference.

Pettersen rolled in a 35-footer for birdie to win the 16th and square the match. At the next hole, she knocked her approach to four feet, but Wie held tough. Wie poured in a 15-foot birdie putt, then Pettersen rolled in her birdie putt to head to 18 all-square.

At the 18th, both players hit great drives, but Pettersen's second stopped nine feet from the hole. Wie's approach landed in the right greenside bunker, and she blasted out to just inside Pettersen's line.

Pettersen stroked home the birdie putt to get the full point.

"Play with instinct," Pettersen said on TV. "It's fantastic."

Hedwall stepped up next, but O'Toole made it easier for her.

O'Toole bogeyed 17 to make it a 1-up lead with one to play, then missed the green at the last. She tried to hit a perfect pitch, but barely advanced her third. O'Toole finally got her ball on the green in four, but was outside Hedwall's ball, and Hedwall was putting for birdie.

O'Toole conceded the hole and that halve, and with Munoz 1-up with one to play in the last match on the course, Europe had enough points to finally reclaim the Cup.

The celebration was in full force with Pettersen leading the way running around the 18th.

"We've only just done it and my word it was tight," said Laura Davies, who has played in every Solheim Cup for the European side. "We knew we had the players who could do it in the bottom matches.

"It's great. You can see from the 18th just what the celebrations are going to be like tonight."

In a Sunday marred with three weather stoppages, the first point of the day went to Europe before a shot was struck in the match.

Cristie Kerr conceded the anchor match to Karen Stupples when a right wrist injury flared up on the range. Kerr was clearly shaken and visibly crying, but per the captain's agreement, the full point went to Europe.

The leadoff match also went Europe's way, although in the conventional sense. Catriona Matthew hammered Paula Creamer, 6 & 5.

Kerr and Creamer were the only Americans, and only players in the whole competition, to play in all four team sessions.

Brittany Lang got her first victory of the week with a 6 & 5 drubbing of Germany's Sandra Gal.

Sophie Gustafson earned a 2-up win over American Stacy Lewis in the second match, giving Europe an 11-9 advantage. Morgan Pressel drew the U.S. within a point after she bested Anna Nordqvist, 2 & 1.

Davies and Juli Inkster got their wish to play each other in the fourth match, but Davies bogeyed the last and the Solheim veterans halved.

Christina Kim, who didn't play at all on Saturday, handled Maria Hjorth, 4 & 2, to tie the score, 11 1/2 - 11 1/2.

Vicky Hurst, another American who didn't crack the lineup on Saturday, beat Melissa Reid, 2-up, to move her side ahead, but Christel Boeljon knotted up the contest a few moments later with a 2-up win over Brittany Lincicome.

It was then that the Europeans staged their rally and won back the Solheim Cup that has been out of reach for eight years.

"I can't tell you how good this feels," said Pettersen.

NOTES: The U.S. had won the last three Solheim Cups...Inkster, who served an assistant captain as well as a player this week, indicated after the matches that this will definitely be her last Solheim Cup as a player...Davies became the all-time points leader in Cup history on Saturday.