PARKER, Colo. – As the saying goes, that’s why they play the games. In this case, that’s why they play the matches. The U.S. entered the Solheim Cup as the overwhelming favorite to defeat Europe on home soil, a place the Americans have never lost. Although the matches at Colorado Golf Club are far from over, Europe has much-needed momentum.
Here’s how things look after Day 1:
Leaderboard: Morning foursomes – Europe 3, U.S. 1; Afternoon fourballs – Europe 2, U.S. 2; Total – Europe 5, U.S. 3.
What it means: It gives Europe hope. Think about it, a team with six rookies took it to the Americans early and held on to the lead late on a golf course that favors the U.S. because of long, wide fairways and quick, tricky greens. The Americans didn’t play terribly, but they did not get putts to fall. Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr (the top three Americans) all lost in the morning, and Lewis lost again in the afternoon.
Match of the day: The first fourball match of the afternoon pitted Europe’s Suzann Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda against Americans Lewis and Lexi Thompson. It came down to the last hole and both teams made par for Europe to win, 1 up. Pettersen ended the day 2-0, Lewis 0-2. This was the first career Solheim Cup match for both Thompson and Ciganda.
Best of the rest: Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher absolutely throttled Kerr and Creamer in the morning foursomes. The Americans three-putted the first hole and never even squared the match from there. Icher made birdie from 20 feet on eight, Munoz made birdie from 35 feet on nine and Icher again made birdie from 25 feet on 10 to move 4 up and put the match out of reach. Kerr and Creamer made an attempted comeback, but it was too little too late. It was not as close as the 2-and-1 score indicates.
Biggest disappointment: Lewis, the highest ranked player in these matches, went 0-2 on the day and took her career Solheim Cup record to a paltry 1-5. She was out of sorts all day and never looked like her normal self. In the morning she paired with Lizette Salas and lost, 4 and 2, to Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall. In the afternoon she made two birdies in the first seven holes paired with Thompson, but neither made a birdie in the last nine holes and lost (1 down) to Pettersen and Ciganda.
Main storyline heading into Saturday: More of the same. Can Europe keep the momentum and will putts begin to fall for the U.S.? Granted, Europe won Sunday singles two years ago in Ireland, but Europe knows it needs a lead heading into singles this year to have a chance to retain the Solheim Cup.
Shot of the day: Brittany Lang holed out a bunker shot on the par-4 14th hole for birdie in the afternoon to move she and Brittany Lincicome 3 up over Anna Nordqvist and Guilia Sergas. The Americans ultimately won the match, 4 and 3.
Shot of the day II: Five minutes after Lang’s hole-out, Michelle Wie chipped in on the 13th hole. She and Kerr were only 1 up at the time and the shot moved them 2 up with five holes to play. Wie and Kerr won the match, 2 and 1.
Quote of the day: “So I can’t explain what happened. I knew that the banana did not sit.” – Jessica Korda, who threw up her breakfast shortly after hitting the first tee shot on the first hole of her morning match.