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Europe wins Saturday foursomes, extends Solheim lead

Azahara Munoz and Catriona Matthew
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DUNSANY, Ireland – Spanish rookie Azahara Munoz holed a par putt on the 18th to help Europe extend its lead over the United States to 7-5 in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle on Saturday.

Americans Cristie Kerr and Paul Creamer went 1 up on Munoz and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew in the final match of the morning foursomes when Kerr birdied the 17th.

But Kerr bunkered her approach to the last and couldn’t save par from 12 feet, allowing the Europeans to halve the match with a winning par and double Europe’s overnight lead to two points.

“I was just thinking I couldn’t let Catriona down,” the 23-year-old Munoz said of her pressure-packed 3-footer at the last. “We had been fighting so hard all day. I just said I’ve hit a million balls like this, so I just focused and I hit it.”

The United States is bidding to win the Solheim Cup for the fourth consecutive time. But European captain Alison Nicholas said she had “a good feeling” about the outcome and hailed Europe’s halved match in the final foursomes as “absolutely massive.”

Europe started the day leading by 4 ½ to 3 ½ points and won the morning session, 2 ½ -1 ½, as Caroline Hedwall and Sophie Gustafson beat the U.S. pair of Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis, 6 and 5. Morgal Pressel and Ryann O’Toole had a 3-and-2 victory over Europe’s Karen Stupples and Christel Boeljon, but Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist defeated Brittany Lang and Juli Inkster, 3 and 2.

The U.S. side captained by Rosie Jones had trailed in all four foursomes at one stage of the morning but looked set to split the session when Kerr and Creamer went 1 up with three to play against Munoz and Matthew.

Munoz birdied the 16th to square the match before Kerr put the Americans in front again at the 17th. However, the third-ranked player bunkered her approach to the 381-yard 18th.

Europe needs a total of 14 ½ points to win the trophy for the first time since 2003 with four fourballs later Saturday and 12 singles on Sunday.

In fourballs on Saturday afternoon, Laura Davies overtook Annika Sorenstam to become the all-time Solheim Cup record points scorer.

Playing in her 12th Solheim Cup, the four-time major winner teamed up with Melissa Reid in the final fourball session to beat Lang and Michelle Wie 4 and 3.

Davies has won 24 1/2 points in 45 matches with 22 wins, 18 losses and five halved matches. Sorenstam won 24 points in 37 matches in eight Solheim Cups.

Juli Inkster is the record points earner for the United States with 18.