PARKER, Colo. – Some losses never leave you.
The top three Americans in the world rankings today can all say that about losing the Solheim Cup in Ireland two years ago.
Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr are the most decorated champions on the American roster. Lewis is No. 2 in the world, Creamer No. 11 and Kerr No. 12. They’re the last three Americans to win major championships. They’ve combined to win 33 LPGA titles, but that one loss in Ireland bitterly resonates above all that this week with the Americans determined to win back the cup from Europe at Colorado Golf Club.
Lewis, Creamer and Kerr failed to contribute a single point to the American cause in that nightmarish Sunday at Killeen Castle. The loss was stunning in how three of the toughest competitors on the American side got blanked.
They haven’t forgotten what that feels like.
Lewis stayed there in the aftermath with the rest of the Americans to watch Europe giddily celebrate its 15-13 triumph.
“I made myself stay there and watch because I wanted to remember that,” Lewis told GolfChannel.com. “I wanted to remember what it felt like.”
Lewis remembers Creamer turning to the rest of the Americans amid the celebration and making a pledge.
“This is never going to happen again,” Creamer told them.
Here is all you need to know about how painful that Sunday was on America’s best: As tough as they are, Creamer and Kerr broke down in tears. They don’t cry after losses, but they did that day.
The top three Americans in the world went 0-3 in singles.
With the matches 8-8 going into Sunday, Creamer was sent off first to secure the United States’ first point and to set the tone. There was no surprise seeing Creamer leading off. She is an American bulldog at the Solheim Cup. She was 11-2-5 overall in Solheim Cups going into that Sunday, a perfect 3-0 in singles.
Creamer, though, was the first American to fall, and she fell hard.
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew routed Creamer 6 and 5. The sight of that thrashing on scoreboards across Killeen Castle emboldened the rest of the Europeans.
In the second singles match off, Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson whipped Lewis 2 up.
This wasn’t the tone Creamer and Lewis wanted to set.
“I remember sitting there at the end, watching it and thinking, `Is this really happening?’” Creamer said. “It was a terrible feeling. I had never been on a team that lost before.”
Kerr was emotionally crushed before she even reached the first tee in the anchor match.
With her injured left wrist aching too much to allow her to play, Kerr wept telling Solheim Cup officials on the practice range that she would have to concede her match to Karen Stupples.
“I had a photo of my teammates in my yardage book to motivate me, but, unfortunately, I just couldn’t go one more round,” Kerr said.
Kerr fell distraught into her husband’s arms on the range when she realized she couldn’t go.
“Words really can’t express the way I felt,” Kerr said. “I let my teammates down, my country down, my captain down. I didn’t let myself down, because I gave it all I had. I played four matches in a lot of pain.”
It should come as no surprise Lewis, Creamer and Kerr finished 1-2-3 on the U.S. points list for qualifying for this year’s Solheim Cup. They’re among eight players back from the American team that lost in Ireland.
All eight return this week looking to erase that sour memory and avoid adding an even worse memory. The Americans have never lost a Solheim Cup on American soil.
Angela Stanford was asked if the loss in Ireland lingers as motivation.
“I remember the feeling waking up Monday morning in Ireland and thinking, `Man, I’m going to have to listen to the Europeans for two years,’” Stanford said. “I think our team has used it as motivation.”
Lewis used that loss to help her become the LPGA’s Player of the Year last season and become the Rolex world No. 1 for four weeks earlier this year.
“If that Solheim Cup doesn’t happen, I don’t think I would have been able to do anything I’ve done the last two years,” Lewis said. “It changed me as a golfer and as a person. I learned so much about myself and how to handle adversity, handle a tough situation on and off the golf course.”
The Americans will have that loss in Ireland driving them again this week.
“I definitely think we – myself and our team – have something to prove this year,” Kerr said.