US Rallies for Solheim Victory


EDINA, Minn. -- Incredible. Thats the only way to describe the 2002 Solheim Cup matches at Interlachen Country Club. The U.S. squad, down by two points at the beginning of the day, finished 15 to Europes 12 , having won 8 points singles matches Sunday afternoon.
It was a win so great that U.S. Solheim Cup team captain Patty Sheehan was moved to cartwheels. The Europeans put up an incredible fight, yet in the end the Americans prevailed, winning back the Cup they lost at Loch Lomond two years ago.
Free Video - Registration Required Players react to U.S. win.
The U.S. came out strong Sunday morning ready for battle in the single matches. Historically, this has been the Americans' strong suit and Sunday proved no different from the past.
Nordic-like weather greeted the U.S. and European opponents as they teed up for their singles matches. The conditions were really more fitting for the European players who compete frequently under cool conditions, but it seemed to suit Sheehans 12-member squad just fine.
Hall of Famer and Cup veteran Juli Inkster brought home the first point of the day. I found my groove and it was great, Inkster said moments after bringing the U.S. team one point closer to level.
The 42-year-old Hall of Famer and winner of the 2002 U.S. Womens Open recorded three birdies on the backside to win the match 4-up, while setting the tone for the rest of her teammates.
I played better coming in, but I made some good putts on the backside. Patty sent me out there, I knew, to try to get that one point early and I am glad I could come through for her, Inkster said.
Just moments later, Laura Diaz closed her match against Paula Marti, 5-and-3. Diaz, who was dormie walking off of the par-3 14th, ended the match in spectacular birdie style.
We just played some great golf, you know, weve got a great team, the 27-year-old Cup rookie said. Everyone was really pumped and we just went out and battled.
Diaz, who played in three of four matches on Saturday and Sunday, is now 1-1-0 in foursomes, 1-0-0 in four-ball and 1-0-0 in singles.
Iben Tinning of Denmark was the first European to bring home a point in the singles matches. The 28-year-old European rookie, who had so much trouble in Saturday's foursome (alternate shot) match, birdied her way to victory, closing the match 3-and-2 with her birdie on the 16th.
Emilee Klein took on European opponent Helen Alfredsson ' the Goliath of match play. Fortunately the 28-year-old American rookie's game was on Sunday. Two birdies on the front side and two on the back, including a key birdie on the 16th, left her 2-up in her match against one of the toughest match play opponents in the world.
Klein, dormie heading into the 17th, won 2-and-1. I just wanted to get out there and win a match, Klein said. Klein won three of four matches this week with a record of 1-0-0 in foursomes and 1-1-0 in four-ball (better ball) and now 1-0-0 in singles.
The Americans, once again level with the Europeans, had only moments to wait until they won their next point.
Kelly Robbins, who lost two out of three matches earlier this week, came out with guns blazing Sunday, making back-to-back birdies on the opening holes. She kept the match in the red, forcing rookie opponent Maria Hjorth to concede the 15th, and won the match 5-and-3. The U.S. was a mere 3 1/2 points away from victory.
The next point went to Europes Sophie Gustafson, who outplayed Cristie Kerr, ending the match 3-and-2. Gustafson played fantastic golf in the windy conditions, recording four birdies in her round. Much like Annika Sorenstam, she fell into trouble on the par-4 sixth, recording double bogey and loosing the hole to Kerr.
But there werent enough mistakes in Gustafsons game for Kerr to put this match in the red. Kerr, who got off to a bad start in opening the match with two bogeys, was unable to record enough birdies to take over the match.
Michele Redman, a native of Ohio who moved to Minnesota seven years ago, was one of three matches Sunday that were halved. Redman, playing against Europes Suzann Pettersen, was 1-up and dormie walking to the 18th. But Pettersen won the last hole with an incredible birdie putt to half the match. It was an stunning turnaround in the match, which at one point was 5-up in favor of Redman.
Meg Mallon, playing in her sixth Solheim Cup, was victorious against one of the most experienced members of the European Solheim Cup team - Laura Davies. Davies, who played in five matches this week, had complained of a sore back on Saturday, which may account for her spotty play in the singles match.
Mallon reportedly was having a back problem of her own, suffering from back spasms Sunday morning. Regardless, she kept her match in the red throughout, closing it out, 3-and-2, and winning yet another point for the U.S.
Two more points were needed for victory while four matches remained on the course.
With luck of the draw Wendy Ward was paired against the No. 1 golfer in the world, Sorenstam. The 29-year-old rookie on the U.S. squad was an unlikely character to take on the gritty Sorenstam, yet Ward amazed all with her ability to come through when she needed to. Even after back-to-back bogeys started her day off badly, Ward turned things around making birdie on the 182-yard par-3 fourth.
The Swede, playing in her fifth Solheim Cup was not without flaw Sunday. Sorenstam made four bogeys in her round and a double bogey. Wards match moved into the red again after Sorenstam doubled the sixth to loose the hole. The match was all square heading into the last.
On the 18th green Sorenstam left her 20-foot putt inches short of the hole. Ward was putting for the match under enormous pressure. She also left her putt short and so the point was halved. I played well, and I wanted that putt on the last hole so bad, Ward said following her incredible round.
Wards win, which left the matches in favor of the U.S. by one, was finishing up just as Pat Hurst closed out the next match, 4-and-2, against Europes Mhairi McKay. The U.S. squad, now with 14 points over Europes 12, needed only half-point to regain the Cup and close out the week in splendid fashion.
Rosie Jones, second in both driving accuracy and putting on the LPGA Tour, won her match against Karine Icher. Unbeknownst to Jones at the time, she scored the final half-point needed for her teams victory.
The team chanted, 'USA-USA,' after their 42-year-old teammate and five-time Solheim Cup veteran parred the final hole of her match to win 3-and-2.
This is great, said Jones, known as 'Rosebud' to her teammates. I really havent played all that great this week, and Im really glad that I pulled through for them.
Europes Carin Koch and her playing opponent, Beth Daniel, were all square and still on the course after the outcome of the 2002 Solheim Cup. The Cup had been won, but Koch, undefeated in Solheim Cup match play, had a chance to go 5-0. Both players battled for the lead on the closing holes. It wasnt until the 18th that the outcome was decided. Koch bogeyed the hole while Daniel made par to end the match all square and split the point.
Unlike years past, the next Solheim Cup is only a year away to avoid conflict with the men's Ryder Cup. Barseback Golf and Country Club in Region Skane, Sweden, will host the 2003 Solheim Cup, scheduled to take place Sept. 12'14.
Scores from Sunday's 2002 Solheim Cup