OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Stacy Lewis gathered her American teammates in a huddle on the practice range before Friday’s fourballs began at the International Crown.
With the No. 1-seeded Americans coming off a thrashing in the opening round, Lewis’ message was simple.
“Stacy just said, `No matter what we're going to do, win or lose, we're going to fight, and we're going to grind and we're going to have fun doing it and be positive,’” Paula Creamer said.
That’s the formula that thrust the United States back into the mix Friday with a sweep of a Spanish team known for its own gritty fight.
Mixing up their lineup, the Americans sent out Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson first, and they made quick work of Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo, fashioning a 3-and-2 victory to give the Americans their first points of the inaugural team event.
A day after the Americans failed to hold a lead in either of their losses, Kerr and Thompson never trailed.
Lewis and Creamer followed with a 2-up victory against Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda.
The turnaround left the Americans giddy in anticipation of Saturday’s showdown with Thailand and a run at making Sunday singles at Caves Valley Golf Club.
“We knew we were still in it,” Lewis said. “That was the big thing. We just had to go out there and fight today and fight for every shot and every putt. We knew that the matches were going to be hard. Just from playing those girls in Solheim Cup, we knew it was going to be tough.”
Make no mistake, the Americans had fun getting themselves back in the mix.
Coming off the eighth hole, Creamer said she was stunned to see Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps reaching out to encourage Lewis and her. He shook her hand.
“I haven't washed my hand yet,” Creamer said. “Yeah, Michael Phelps, I almost fell over.”
All of a sudden, the Americans are looking good in their own pool. That would be Pool A with this event having more of a World Cup vibe than an Olympic vibe.
Saturday’s final round of fourballs will determine who advances to Sunday singles. The top two teams from both Pool A and Pool B will advance. So will a fifth wild-card team. The third-place teams from each pool will meet in a sudden-death playoff between one fourballs team from each third-place team.
Thailand leads Pool A with five points. Two points are awarded for a win, one point for a half. The Americans and Chinese Taipei each have four points and Spain has three.
Japan leads Pool B with six points. Korea is second with four points with Sweden and Australia each having three points.
The Americans could end up taking Pool A despite their dismal start on Thursday. Points won the first three days carry over to Sunday.
“I think switching up the pairings helped,” Lewis said. “It got some different momentum going out there.”
Thompson, who played with Lewis on Day 1, flourished alongside Kerr.
“She was there to pump me up on every tee shot,” Thompson said. “So that meant a lot to me.”
Kerr loved seeing Thompson bomb her way around Caves Valley. Thompson eagled the 12th hole to put the Americans 3 up after reaching the par 5 with a driver and 7-iron.
“I thought Lexi and I had a lot of chemistry out there together,” Kerr said. “We played with a lot of heart for each other. When she needed to make those big clutch par putts, she did. And when I needed to get something going for the team, I did.”
Thompson made four birdies and an eagle. Kerr made four birdies.
Lewis and Creamer combined to make eight birdies.
“Our games mesh really well,” Creamer said.
They’ll be looking to keep that going Saturday with the same pairings that turned them around on Friday.