Americans Dig Hole Then Storm Back

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LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- The United States took three of four points in Friday afternoon's fourball matches to pull closer to the European team at the Solheim Cup. The European team holds a 4 1/2 - 3 1/2 lead after one day at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
 
U.S. veterans Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel bested the previously undefeated tandem of hometown favorites Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch, 1-up. The defeat was Koch's first in her 10th Solheim Cup match.
 
The American pairing of Cristie Kerr and Kelli Kuehne got the scoring started Friday afternoon with a 2-and-1 victory over Catriona Matthew and Laura Davies in the session's first match.
 
Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, who is four months pregnant and restricted to one match a day, teamed with Suzann Pettersen to beat Americans Meg Mallon and Angela Stanford, 3 and 2.
 
The final match of Friday's action went 18 holes but the U.S. pulled out their third victory of the session when Michele Redman and Rosie Jones beat Sophie Gustafson and Iben Tinning, 1-up.
 
The Americans did not get off to a good start Friday morning in the alternate-shot format. Sorenstam and Pettersen handled Laura Diaz and Heather Bowie, 4 and 3, Matthew and Janice Moodie trounced Inkster and Wendy Ward, 5 and 3, while Gustafson and Elisabeth Esterl bounced Jones and Mallon, 3 and 2.
 
Daniel and Kelly Robbins halved their match against Koch and Davies when Koch missed a 10-foot par save at 18. In the afternoon session, Daniel and Koch once again went the full 18 but the crucial hole proved to be the 17th.
 
After Inkster sank a five-foot birdie putt at 16 and Sorenstam rolled home a seven-footer for birdie to match Inkster, the teams made their way to 17 all-square.
 
Inkster and Daniel had the best looks at birdie but Inkster's try never found the bottom of the cup. Sorenstam and Koch both made pars but Daniel holed an eight-footer for birdie to give the Americans a 1-up advantage with one to play.
 
'It's quite a relief to go into 18 1-up on those two,' said Daniel. 'They really are a great pair. We had to work pretty hard to beat them.'
 
Daniel and Inkster both found the right side of the green at 18 and so did Sorenstam, who knocked it closer than either American. Koch landed in a greenside bunker and was out of the hole after her blast failed to fall into the cup. Daniel and Inkster both two-putted for pars and Sorenstam's birdie try flew past the hole, giving the Americans the valuable full point.
 
'We didn't get too far down,' said Inkster, who never trailed by more than a 1-down margin in Friday afternoon's session. 'We kept them within our sights and then we made some good birdies on the back side.'
 
'I think it was a great match,' said Koch, who moved her Solheim Cup record to 7-1-2 in three appearances. 'We played Juli and Beth, who are two of the best in the world. If we made a couple more putts we would have really gotten going.'
 
The only other match to reach the closing hole at Barsebck was the anchor match. Redman bogeyed the seventh to fall 1-down and that remained the score until the 14th, as the teams halved with birdies three times in between.
 
At 14, Redman chipped in from off the green to square the match and Jones took the lead with a 12-foot birdie at the par-three 15th. Redman made a gutsy 12- footer to halve the 16th and the teams halved No. 17.
 
Both Americans drove through the fairway at 18 but reached the green with their second shots. Tinning landed 35 feet from the cup, while Gustafson's approach stopped 25 feet past the hole. The Americans missed their birdie tries that could have sealed the match, but Tinning missed her try as well.
 
That left it up to Gustafson but her birdie putt didn't disappear in the cup, meaning the Americans closed the gap to one.
 
'This was big because we really had to hang in there on the front side just to stay with them,' said Jones. 'Michele really brought it on the back nine. I just kind of hung in there and helped out a little bit.'
 
Kerr and Kuehne went 2-up around the turn but Europe won the 10th to get 1-down. Kerr made a five-footer to win the 11th then Kuehne drained a seven-footer at 13 to go 3-up.
 
The Europeans won the 16th to extend the match but the teams halved 17 to give the U.S. the victory.
 
Pettersen and Meunier-Lebouc were 1-up around the turn and birdied two of the first three holes on the second nine to get 3-up. Mallon and Stanford never got closer and the match ended when the teams halved 16 with birdies.
 
In the first Solheim Cup outside of the United States or United Kingdom, play began under foggy conditions and with heavy hearts. All participants are sporting black ribbons in honor of the slain Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh, who was murdered earlier in the week.
 
Play was contested for almost 30 minutes before the fog became too much. The morning session was stopped for over 90 minutes but when play resumed, the Europeans took full advantage with 3 1/2 points in the foursomes matches.
 
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