It was a day to remember in Des Moines for the USA Solheim Cup Team, which holds a 10.5 to 5.5 lead over Team Europe and carries the lead into Sunday’s final round of singles for the first time since 1998. Team USA needs 3.5 points to retain the Cup and 4 points to win outright.
“We played well. We played probably better than well; we played amazing,” said USA Captain Juli Inkster, who is trying to join Judy Rankin (USA in 1996 and 1998) as the only women for either side to captain two victorious teams. “But as you know, closing it out is the toughest thing to do. And we need one more great day of golf.”
The afternoon’s four-ball matches featured four tight battles. Brittany Lang and Brittany Linciome combined to shoot 12 under in their 2-up win over Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid, who hung right in with the Americans with a 10-under round of their own. The only European win of the afternoon went to Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist, who beat Lizette Salas and Angel Yin, 4 and 2. Creamer and Austin Ernst took a 2-and-1 win over Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom, and Kerr and Lexi Thompson closed out the leader board for the USA with a 4-and-2 win over Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew.
The morning’s foursomes matches were an even split, with Team USA taking two 5-and-3 wins and Team Europe taking two 2-and-1 victories. Kerr and Thompson never trailed in their victory over Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson, while Creamer and Ernst came back from an early deficit to beat Reid and Emily Pedersen. Hall and Nordqvist used their superb putting skills to secure the win over Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, and Matthew and Icher won their second foursomes match of the Cup, this time over Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang.
For two American veterans, it was a morning that rewrote the record book. Cristie Kerr earned her 19th career point and passed USA Captain Juli Inkster at 18.5 for the most points in USA Solheim Cup history. Kerr also now has the most match wins in USA history with 16, passing Inkster’s 15. Paula Creamer passed Inkster as the USA’s all-time points winner in foursomes matches with 8.5 points.
FOURSOMES – USA 2, EUROPE 2
Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson (EUR), 5 and 3
Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) def. Mel Reid and Emily Pedersen (EUR), 5 and 3
Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall (EUR) def. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (USA), 2 and 1
Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher (EUR) def. Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang (USA), 2 and 1
FOUR-BALLS – USA 3, EUROPE 1
Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome (USA) def. Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid (USA), 2 up
Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist (EUR) def. Lizette Salas and Angel Yin (USA), 4 and 2
Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) def. Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom (EUR), 2 and 1
Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) def. Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew (EUR), 4 and 2
SUNDAY SINGLES PAIRINGS
9:31 a.m. – Anna Nordqvist (EUR) v. Lexi Thompson (USA)
9:42 a.m. – Georgia Hall (EUR) v. Paula Creamer (USA)
9:53 a.m. – Mel Reid (EUR) v. Cristie Kerr (USA)
10:04 a.m. – Catriona Matthew (EUR) v. Stacy Lewis (USA)
10:15 a.m. – Karine Icher (EUR) v. Angel Yin (USA)
10:26 a.m. – Caroline Masson (EUR) v. Michelle Wie (USA)
10:37 a.m. – Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR) v. Lizette Salas (USA)
10:48 a.m. – Charley Hull (EUR) v. Brittany Lang (USA)
10:59 a.m. – Carlota Ciganda (EUR) v. Brittany Lincicome (USA)
11:10 a.m. – Florentyna Parker (EUR) v. Gerina Piller (USA)
11:21 a.m. – Madelene Sagstrom (EUR) v. Austin Ernst (USA)
11:32 a.m. – Emily Pedersen (EUR) v. Danielle Kang (USA)
AMERICAN CAPTAIN JULI INKSTER
“I just love where my players’ heads are at right now. They know – they haven’t said one thing in the locker room. They just were just all putting the team, the lineup together and asking everybody where they would like to fall, where they felt comfortable. And they know that it’s like game seven of any playoff, that’s the hardest game to win, is to advance.
So we’ve got our work cut out for us, and I know Annika’s team will not quit. So we’ll be ready for the task.”
EUROPEAN CAPTAIN ANNIKA SORENSTAM
“There’s been a lot of comebacks in sports in general. Let’s not just focus on just golf. Sports, life in general. March 16, 2001, before I teed off, nobody had shot 59. I’m still the only one that’s done that. I know it’s possible. There are a lot of things I can bring up that’s possible. And history can be made. So, like I said, hope is the last thing that’s going to leave us. And we’re determined. We didn’t fly these miles to not put up a fight. The fight is not over yet.”
STATS TO KNOW AFTER SATURDAY AT THE SOLHEIM CUP
All 12 members of the American team have won at least one match at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. This feat was accomplished after Saturday morning’s foursome.
The Americans did not trail in nine of the 16 matches played. In these matches, the score was at least 3 up five times before being decided for the United States.
Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome are the only Americans who have not been behind at any point in their four-ball matches. In these two matches, they combined to score 18 birdies and two eagles.
Georgia Hall is the lone European rookie to win at least one match, with a record of 2-2-0. The other three rookies for Europe are 0-5-0. Hall is also the only player to compete in four matches logging 67 holes played.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON FOUR-BALL RECAPS – USA 3, EUROPE 1
Match 13 – Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome (USA) def. Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid (USA), 2 up
The Brittanys took the golf course by storm early, with Brittany Lincicome birdieing the first six holes outright and Brittany Lang electrifying the crowd with a hole-out for eagle at No. 7. But Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid slowly chipped away at the 3-up lead, with birdies from Reid at No. 8 and Ciganda at No. 10 pulling the Europeans within one.
The Americans regained a 2-up advantage when Lincicome made birdie from 6 feet at No. 14, her ninth birdie of the match. The birdie-fest continued at No. 16, with Reid pulling her side within one. But Lang nestled her approach to 2 feet on No. 18 and neither Ciganda nor Reid could hole out, closing out the match for the Americans.
The win moves the Lang/Lincicome partnership to 4-0-0 all time in Solheim Cup competition, all in four-ball matches (one in 2009, one in 2013 and two in 2017). They also combined for a round of 12-under par, with the usual match-play concessions, while Ciganda and Reid played to 10 under.
“I know I’ve played some with some good golf,” said Lang. “But I do not think I’ve played with that many birdies. Brit, coming out of the gates, it was amazing to sit there and cheer and watch her. It was cool.”
“I had the six birdies in a row and I finally looked over at the leaderboard, and I think we were only two up at that point. And I kind of felt deflated,” added Lincicome. “I felt like we were doing so well to only have been 2 up. It was a really strange feeling. Then she holed out and we kind of went on. Both sides are playing phenomenal golf. It’s not like one person hasn’t carried their weight and done their part this week. Everyone is playing fantastic.”
Match 14 – Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist (EUR) def. Lizette Salas and Angel Yin (USA), 4 and 2
The only blue on the afternoon scoreboard came courtesy of Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist, who notched a 4-and-2 win over Lizette Salas and Angel Yin. Nordqvist, who missed much of the last month battling mononucleosis, holed a 4-footer for birdie at No. 2 to take the lead, and the Europeans held the advantage from there.
Salas brought the huge crowd to their feet with a 50-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 5. Nordqvist birdied No. 8 to take the Europeans 2 up, and Ewart Shadoff contributed a hole-winning birdie at No. 14 to put them three clear of Salas and Yin. Salas nearly holed out for eagle at No. 15, but the hole was halved with short birdies, and Ewart Shadoff won the match with a birdie at the 17th.
“It was a lot of birdies out there, not just between me and Anna, but Lizette and Angel played great, too,” said Ewart Shadoff. “It was a lot of fun playing with Anna. We have very similar games. We were there for each other when we needed each other.”
Match 15 – Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) def. Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom (EUR), 2 and 1
Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst won both of their matches on Saturday, taking a hard-fought 2-and-1 win over Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom in the afternoon four-ball session. Ernst won the first hole with a birdie and while the Europeans were able to pull all square twice, Creamer and Ernst never trailed in the victory.
Creamer, long known for her patriotic enthusiasm at the Solheim Cup, riled up the crowd with a 8-foot eagle at No. 5, and she pulled her side ahead by two with a long birdie putt at No. 8. Icher won No. 9 with a par to pull back within one, but another Creamer birdie, this one from 10 feet at No. 11, gave the Americans a 2-up lead and ultimately the win.
“You have to make birdies in match play,” said Creamer. “And this golf course, it’s good to be aggressive. But you can’t be overly aggressive, just because of where some of the pin placements are. But when your partner’s playing well, it makes you feel good. So then you’re a little bit more confident in what you’re doing.”
Match 16 – Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) def. Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew (EUR), 4 and 2
Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr defeated Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew, 4 and 2, in the final match of the day. The American duo, who went 2-0-1 during the week, started strong with victories in two of the first three holes before the Europeans got one back with an eagle from Hall at No. 4.
The Americans pushed their advantage back to two with a Thompson birdie on No. 6, a lead they held until the 10th, when Matthew snuck a birdie in on the left side. Thompson quickly answered with a birdie of her own on No. 11 to extend the lead.
After an extraordinary stretch saw both sides matching clutch putts from holes 11-13, Team USA went dormie when Kerr holed out a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 15th, sending the crowds into a frenzy. When Matthew and Hall narrowly missed birdie putts on the 16th, the duo conceded a birdie to Thompson to wrap up the match.
“We just knew they were going to play really tough and they did,” said Kerr. “They made a lot of birdies and they stuffed it in some holes that we said I had to make putts on top of them. Lexi had to make putts on top of them. And we really ham and egged it out well there. I think that’s why we make such a good team because we’re there for each other.”
SATURDAY MORNING FOURSOMES RECAPS – EUROPE 2, USA 2
Match 9 – Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson (EUR), 5 and 3
For the second straight day, Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson won the first hole to grab a 1-up lead over their European counterparts. But while on Friday they ended up halving their match, Saturday was never in doubt – it was a USA victory all the way. Kerr and Thompson never trailed in their 5-and-3 victory over Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson.
The match clearly turned in Team USA’s favor at the par-3 eighth hole, when Thompson rolled in a birdie from 8 feet to go 2 up. At the ensuing ninth, Kerr’s birdie put the pressure on the Europeans, and Masson’s attempt rushed by to the right. The lead then grew to 4 up on No. 10, when in signature Kerr fashion, she walked in her deep birdie putt.
The match culminated at the par-5 15th, when Thompson put her approach to 15 feet and Kerr’s hot putting hand put away the victory for the Americans. With that victory, Kerr became the winningest player in USA Solheim Cup history, passing Juli Inkster in overall points (19) and match wins (16).
“She putted amazing today, walked in so many putts,” said Thompson. “I just gave her the opportunities and she was just rolling the ball.”
Match 10 – Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) def. Mel Reid and Emily Pedersen (EUR), 5 and 3
Paula Creamer is now the winningest foursomes player in USA history with 8.5 points, thanks to teaming with Austin Ernst in a 5-and-3 win over Emily Pedersen and Mel Reid.
The Europeans won the opening hole with a birdie to put the Americans in an early deficit. But a USA birdie at No. 3 squared the match, and they took the lead for good when Creamer’s birdie putt at No. 5 has just enough roll to fall into the hole. The Europeans struggled on the back nine, making bogeys at Nos. 10-13 to extend the American advantage to 4 up, and the match ended with a conceded birdie for Team USA at the 15th.
Creamer always thrives in the Solheim Cup setting, and Saturday morning was no exception. After doing a dance to the “Pink Panther” theme song on the tee, the seven-time Team USA veteran punctuated every big putt with an equally big fist pump, further exciting the big Des Moines crowds.
“There’s nothing better than getting a point for your team,” said Creamer, who moved ahead of Inkster on the USA’s all-time foursomes scoring list. “And yesterday, Austin and I played pretty well. We just went against a strong team. We were definitely motivated to get back out here and get our first point. The rookie over here, I wanted to be with her when she got her first one.”
Match 11 – Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall (EUR) def. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (USA), 2 and 1
Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist defeated Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, 2 and 1, to put the first points of the day on the board for Team Europe.
The European duo made a quick birdie on the first hole to take an early advantage before the Americans bounced back with wins on holes 4 and 5 to take a 1-up lead. A costly bogey on the next hole squared the match again where it remained until the 10th hole, when a series of U.S. errors led to Europe winning the hole with a conceded par.
The lead extended to 2 up when Nordqvist drilled a testy 6-footer for par on the par-4 13th. After holes 15 and 16 were halved, Hall started to shine with the putter. The Solheim Cup rookie made a 12-footer on 16 to go dormie with two to play and put the Europeans on the board by making a 10-footer on 17 that was punctuated by a monster fist pump.
“Yeah, kind of felt it today,” said Hall. “It’s easy to feel like that when you’ve got a partner like Anna. She played amazing both matches. And to get to have some points with her, I’m very happy and we both played well today.”
Match 12 – Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher (EUR) def. Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang (USA), 2 and 1
In the morning’s final match, the veteran duo of Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher came back from another early deficit and beat crowd darlings Danielle Kang and Michelle Wie, 2 and 1.
Matthew and Icher, who have a combined 13 Solheim Cup appearances, were down early, with the Americans birdieing the par-3 third to go 1 up. Matthew made birdie from 3 feet at No. 5 to go all square, and Icher’s 20-foot birdie at No. 8 gave the Europeans the lead. The veterans remained cool under pressure, as Wie and Kang never let the advantage grow beyond two holes. But in the end, Icher’s short par putt at No. 17 sealed a second point for Team Europe.
“I think that was a huge point,” said Matthew, who was named to the team on Wednesday to replace the injured Suzann Pettersen. “We certainly didn’t want to lose another session. Ideally we wanted to win that session, but to come out with a draw, hopefully we can come out all guns blazing this afternoon and get more points.”