Europe Dominates Foursomes Again


LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- Europe claimed three of four points in Saturday's foursomes matches to extend their lead at the Solheim Cup. The European side owns a 7 1/2 - 4 1/2 advantage at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch avenged their loss Friday afternoon by beating Heather Bowie and Wendy Ward, 3 and 2, on Saturday.
The Swedish duo lost 1-up in a Friday fourball match against Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel for their first loss as a team in two Solheim Cups, but the hometown favorites claimed their revenge Saturday morning.
The match was close through the front nine but the Europeans won three holes out of four around the turn. The Americans got one back at 14 thanks to a European bogey but the match ended when Sorenstam and Koch parred No. 16.
'I think our game really fits this type of format,' said Sorenstam. 'Carin and I get along so well. If I didn't hit it good, then she would hit it good. It was fun to win.'
Sorenstam and Koch might have benefited from the huge crowds that have gathered at Barsebck. There are 30,000 tickets sold for Saturday's action and aside from cheering on their countrywomen, the galleries were treated to some exciting golf Saturday morning, which was enhanced by strong winds kicking up around the course.
The young European tandem of Elisabeth Esterl and Iben Tinning halved their match with Solheim Cup rookie and U.S. Women's Open runner-up Angela Stanford and Michele Redman.
In the anchor match, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins went the full 18 holes with the Scottish duo of Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie. The teams halved their match as neither could cash in on birdie tries at the last.
The first match of the day went to the Europeans. Suzann Pettersen ran her record in this year's competition to 3-0 as she and Sophie Gustafson bested the American pair of Cristie Kerr and Kelli Kuehne, 2 and 1.
Esterl and Tinning took a 1-up lead when the rookie Stanford missed a two- footer to halve the 14th but Tinning missed a slightly longer putt at 15 that squared the match.
Stanford atoned for the mishap at 14 when she sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole to reclaim a 1-up advantage but that was quick lived. Esterl, a 27-year-old German, knocked the team's approach to inches at the 17th. The U.S. conceded her birdie then missed their putt to see the match evened up on 18.
Tinning left the team's second shot 45 feet short of the hole at 18 while Stanford hit her's 15 feet below the cup. Esterl blew the birdie try four feet past while Redman lagged her birdie putt close enough the Europeans gave the Americans their par. Tinning stroked home the tester and earned the half point.
'It was great match,' said Redman. 'We both played great, the Europeans played great. We had a tough match out there today.'
Saturday morning's final match saw the U.S. pull even at the par-5 12th when the Europeans made a mess of the hole. Europe reclaimed a 1-up lead at the next hole when Moodie converted on a three-footer for birdie.
Moodie missed a 15-footer for par at the 15th and Robbins ran home a four-footer to square the match. Matthew knocked the team's third shot at the par-5 16th to five feet to set up birdie but before Moodie holed the putt, Robbins knocked in an 18-footer to halve the hole and move to No. 17.
The Americans looked to be in trouble at 17 when Mallon missed the green right with the team's approach. Robbins' chip hit the stick and settled inches from the cup for the conceded par. Matthew sank a three-footer for par of their own and it was on to 18 with the match all-square.
Neither Robbins nor Moodie hit spectacular approaches to No. 18, with Robbins 35 feet short of the hole and Moodie about 10 feet closer. Mallon struck a good putt and was conceded par while Matthew left around two feet for their team's par.
Robbins and Mallon conceded the tricky putt and each team left with a half point.
'We would have liked to get a full point out of this but that was a tough match,' said Mallon. 'We know what happens here. It's important this afternoon to get some points on the board and then it's all about tomorrow.'
Pettersen and Gustafson went 3-up after a birdie at 12 but Kerr and Kuehne clawed back into the match. Kuehne and Kerr each holed birdie putts at 13 and 14 to get 1-down but Pettersen shut the door on the match with an eight-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
'You have to stay in there and take it shot by shot,' said Pettersen. 'Every putt is important.'
There are four fourball matches Saturday afternoon then 12 singles matches on Sunday. The U.S., as defending champions, need 14 points to retain the Solheim Cup while Europe needs 14 1/2 to win it.
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