Strange Ending to Solheim Cup

By Golf Channel NewsroomSeptember 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden (AP) -- U.S. captain Patty Sheehan knew the Solheim Cup was over. She just didn't think the Europeans would take it so literally.
In a bizarre conclusion Sunday, the five matches still in progress were conceded when Europe clinched the cup by reaching 14 1/2 points, and players walked off the course.
'It went into instant chaos,' Sheehan said. 'I didn't know what was happening.'
She said she saw Meg Mallon standing on the back of the 16th green, 'and she was supposed to be playing some other hole.'
Amid the confusion, players who were trailing conceded their match.
Elisabeth Esterl, 4-down to Laura Diaz, conceded from the 15th fairway. Europe was 1-up in three matches with at least four holes to play, while the United States was 1-up as it played the 16th.
The result was a final score of 17 1/2 - 10 1/2, the biggest rout in Solheim Cup history.
'I had never experienced that before,' Sheehan said. 'Usually, we just sort of play in, and that's it. I can't say, 'Hey, you guys can't quit.' What do you do?'
The Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup often are decided with matches still on the course. Players usually finish, even if their motivation is gone, for no other reason than bookkeeping and entertaining the fans.
This was the first time in either competition that everyone quit.
Patricia Meunier-LeBouc walked in from her match with Kelly Robbins, which was all square on the 12th hole, the final singles game.
Perhaps the most bizarre was Laura Davies, who was 1-up against Mallon when they finished on No. 14.
'We both said to the referee, 'We want to halve.' He said we couldn't do that,' Davies said. 'Meg didn't want to play anymore. I didn't want to play anymore. I just wanted to find the rest of the team.'
When they reached the green, Mallon went to the referee and conceded the match. Davies was in a bunker, and when she realized what was happening, tried to concede the match herself.
'But Meg had already done it, so now we're arguing,' Davies said. 'She had already done it, and that was the end of it.'
Mallon and vice captain Jane Geddes approached Beth Daniel, 1-down to Mhairi McKay on the 15th tee, and told her to concede.
'I had just won two holes in a row,' Daniel said. 'I was upset at the way it was done. It's odd that we're the ones who always have to concede.'
The Americans were in the same position last year, when Rosie Jones clinched the cup with Daniel still on the course with Carin Koch.
'Carin wanted to keep playing because she was undefeated in the Solheim Cup,' Daniel said. 'Individual records mean nothing.'
Europe won the Ryder Cup last year in England with two matches still on the course. Sergio Garcia sprinted down the 18th fairway in glee as Davis Love III and Pierre Fulke were playing, and the disruption caused both players to concede the hole, ending in a halve.
Sheehan said matches should be finished, regardless of the outcome, although European captain Catrin Nilsmark disagreed.
'When you have the cup, it doesn't feel too inspiring to play on,' Nilsmark said. 'It's a little bit meaningless, unless you're starting to play the 18th and it's huge crowds and you're somebody like Annika or a huge idol.'
The decision could have had an impact on individual records.
Suzann Pettersen was 1-down to Cristie Kerr on No. 16 and had a chance to become the first player in the Solheim Cup to win all five of her matches.
With a halve, Mallon could have become the career points leaders among Americans. Instead, she is tied with good friend Dottie Pepper.
The victory for Davies put her in a tie with Annika Sorenstam with 17 1/2 career points, most among Europeans.
As for the final score?
'I don't care what the final score was,' Sheehan said. 'We lost.'
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