Euros Two Up with Two Days to Play

By Sports NetworkSeptember 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- Europe and America split the afternoon fourballs on Friday, but the European side is two points ahead at 5-3 after day one of the Solheim Cup.
 
The most exciting match of the fourballs featured world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam. She and Catriona Matthew defeated Pat Hurst and Wendy Ward, 2 and 1.
 
Maria Hjorth
Maria Hjorth helped the Europeans make a stunning comeback in the morning session.
Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon, a pair of veterans who sat out on Friday morning, bested Maria Hjorth and Iben Tinning, 3 and 2. Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis returned Friday afternoon and dispatched Europe's Sophie Gustafson and Karen Stupples, 2 and 1.
 
Laura Davies, the only player to compete in all nine Solheim Cups, was outstanding Friday afternoon. She teamed with Suzann Pettersen to handle a highly anticipated American tandem of Paula Creamer and Juli Inkster, 4 and 3.
 
In Friday morning's foursomes, the U.S. was comfortably ahead in three of the matches until the Europeans caught fire on the back nine. The session ended with two halves and two losses for the U.S., but this is nothing new for the American side.
 
The U.S. has not held sole possession of the lead after the first day of a Solheim Cup since the 1998 edition at Muirfield Village in Ohio.
 
The Sorenstam-Matthew/Hurst-Ward match started out with four halves until Ward won the fifth with a birdie. Hurst two-putted from 8 feet for a par and a win at the eighth to move the Americans 2-up.
 
The Europeans wasted little time in cutting the gap as they made birdie at the ninth. Sorenstam then took over. At the 10th, she sank a 15-foot birdie putt and both Americans missed from inside Sorenstam's putt and the match was even.
 
Sorenstam birdied 12, but Ward had a chance to halve the hole. Her 7-footer hit the cup and lipped out and now the European side was 1-up.
 
Hurst and Sorenstam halved the 14th with birdies, but Sorenstam took advantage of the next par-5, No. 15. She missed the green with her second, but chipped to 3 feet and tapped in the short birdie putt to move 2-up.
 
The teams halved 16 and Sorenstam hit her tee ball to 25 feet at the 17th. Ward played her shot 10 feet right of the hole, but a long delay might have knocked her out of her rhythm.
 
Sorenstam had a gigantic spike mark in her line and asked for a ruling. She was denied, but it took several minutes to sort out the situation. Sorenstam missed her birdie try, then Ward once again lipped out. Matthew rolled in a 3-footer for par and the win.
 
'It was a big spike mark and I was wondering if there was something we could do about it,' said Sorenstam. 'Obviously I know the rules, but I was thinking we could tweak it this time.
 
'We played great today. She let me play some golf on the back. We're happy with the match.'
 
Jones was outstanding from the beginning. She birdied five of the first seven holes to give the American side a 3-up lead, a margin the Europeans could never overcome.
 
Jones and Mallon won the eighth hole with bogey, then the teams halved the next five holes. Mallon got into the groove at the 14th with a long birdie putt that put the U.S. 4-up with four to play.
 
Mallon had a 15-footer at No. 15 that could have won the match, but her putt did not fall. The Europeans parred the 16th and Jones two-putted for her par to give the Americans their first full point.
 
'I was reading it well on the greens today and had a really good feel,' said Jones. 'I started to get a little sloppy on the back side, but Meg was right there. We're just glad to take the point.'
 
Kerr and Gulbis rebounded from Friday morning's foursomes loss to Davies and Hjorth. Kerr gave the Americans an early lead with a 5-foot birdie putt on the second and extended the advantage with a 4-footer at the fourth.
 
Both Kerr and Gulbis were in close at the seventh and Gulbis sank the birdie putt to put her side 3-up. Stupples cut into the lead with a birdie at the 10th, but Gulbis answered at 12 with a 15-footer. Gustafson had a chance to halve the hole from 9 feet, but missed, giving the Americans a 3-up lead with six to play.
 
Gulbis missed a 6-footer for birdie at the 14th, but Gustafson drained one from a foot closer to get within 2-down. Gustafson once again stepped up and drained a 7-footer at the 16th to cut the margin to 1-down.
 
At the par-3 17th, Kerr hit her tee ball to 8 feet, but that was after Gustafson knocked her shot to 10 feet. Gustafson missed her birdie putt, then Kerr converted her's to give the Americans the first two matches.
 
'We played pretty well in the morning, just couldn't get any putts to go in,' said Kerr. 'We hung in there today and made some big putts when we had to. Obviously I made a putt on the last to win and that felt very good.'
 
Inkster, who sat out the morning session with a finger problem, put the American team in the win column with an 18-foot birdie putt at the first.
 
That would be the last win for some time for the Americans. Davies won the third, fourth and seventh holes to go 2-up. The Europeans took the eighth, 11th and 12th holes to build a large lead, but Inkster won 13 when her tee ball stopped inches from the cup.
 
The Americans were 4-down with five to play, but the teams halved the next two holes to end the match on the 15th green.
 
'I played pretty well,' said Davies. 'When you've got a partner like that backing you up, you aren't going to get any bad shots. If she needs me to back her up, I'm there and if I need her to back me up, she's there.'
 
Saturday will feature four foursomes matches in the morning, then four fourball matches in the afternoon. On Sunday, all 12 players on each side compete in singles matches.
 
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