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Recap: Led by rookies, Europe wins Solheim Cup for fourth time in six editions

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For the fourth time in six editions, Europe has won the Solheim Cup.

The visiting side, now winners of back-to-back cups, built a two-point lead entering singles before closing out a 15-13 victory with a 6-6 singles split Monday at Inverness Club.

Rookie Matilda Castren, who went 3-1 on the week, rolled in the retaining par putt, an 8-footer at the last agains Lizette Salas, while Emily Kristine Pedersen also closed out a 3-1 week with the winning point, courtesy of a 1-up win over Danielle Kang.

"Just a superstar," European captain Catriona Matthew said of Castren. "When she made that putt at 18 ... we just all kind of exploded."

Another European rookie, Leona Maguire, went 4-0-1, capped by a 5-and-4 takedown over fellow rookie Jennifer Kupcho. The U.S. still leads the all-time series, 10-7, but Europe has all the momentum heading into Spain in 2023.

"Just an amazing team," Matthew said. "They just came out here and performed, got off to a great start ... I'm actually at a loss for words at the moment."

Here is a match-by-match singles recap from Monday's finish in Toledo, Ohio: 

Match scoring for the Solheim Cup

Match 17: Lexi Thompson (U.S.) vs. Anna Nordqvist, tie

There were high expectations for the two Solheim Cup veterans to put on a show in the first singles match, and neither competitor showed signs of giving in as they rattled off back-and-forth birdies. “It's always a great match going up against Anna,” said Thompson. “It was going back and forth, and we both played great.” Added Nordqvist: “I mean, you can't ask for anything more, her playing good, me playing good.” Both players gave close runs at birdie on No. 18 and ended their match each with an exceptional half point.

Highlight: Solheim Cup Singles, Thompson-Nordqvist

Highlight: Solheim Cup Singles, Thompson-Nordqvist

Match 18: Madelene Sagstrom (Europe) def. Ally Ewing, 3 and 2

Sagstrom’s win against Ewing started to minimize hope for a Team USA comeback. Both players drove their ball into the greenside bunker on No. 16. Ewing missed her 10-foot birdie putt leaving the door open for Sagstrom, who was 2 up in the match. She knocked in her 4-footer for birdie and earned a 3-and-2 win for her first point this week.

Match 19: Leona Maguire (Europe) def. Jennifer Kupcho, 5 and 4

In aa matchup of Solheim rookies and former college players of the year, Maguire played a stellar 4-under round against Kupcho to earn a decisive 5-and-4 victory and the first singles point for Team Europe. “Jen is a world class player. I knew I was going to have to play some really good golf to beat her today,” said Maguire, who will leave her first Solheim Cup undefeated with a total of 4 1/2 points earned this week.

Highlights: Solheim Cup, Singles, Maguire-Kupcho

Highlights: Solheim Cup, Singles, Maguire-Kupcho

Match 20: Nelly Korda (U.S.) def. Georgia Hall, 1 up

A great comeback for Korda, the world No. 1 who was just 1-2 entering singles, and a much-needed point for Team USA. Korda was 2 down early against Hall, but she won four of five holes starting at No. 5 to take the lead, which she held the rest of the way. “It was close all day. ... It was kind of back and forth, but happy to get it done,” said Korda, who earned the first singles point for the home side.

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Korda-Hall

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Korda-Hall

Match 21: Celine Boutier (Europe) def. Mina Harigae, 5 and 4

Boutier never lost a hole against Harigae and exemplified another match where Team Europe sustained control. Three birdies and only one bogey earned Boutier the win. “I played really solid from the start, so it just definitely helped me to get the win today,” said Boutier, who captured the third singles point for the European team. 

Match 22: Austin Ernst (U.S.) vs. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, tie

Neither Ernst nor Madsen had more than a 1-up lead during their match. Under all the pressure in the 18th fairway, Ernst answered her opponent's approach and hit her wedge shot to 8 feet. But a slight lack of pace on her putt drifted her ball left of the hole, and the match settled in a tie. 

Match 23: Matilda Castren (Euorpe) def. Lizette Salas, 1 up

Salas’ eagle at the par-5 second was the only under-par score for the American through 12 holes, yet she only trailed, 1 down. After Castren missed a lengthy birdie try at the par-5 13th hole, Salas took that hole and tied the match. Castren won No. 15 with a 30-foot birdie make, but Salas kept the score at 1 down by matching Castren's birdie at the par-4 16th hole. Salas had a great chance to send the match to No. 18 all tied, but she missed a 6-footer for birdie at No. 17. Castren then sealed the deal by rolling in an 8-footer for par at the last to earn the retaining point.

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Castren vs. Salas

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Castren vs. Salas

Match 24: Brittany Altomare (U.S.) def. Carlota Ciganda, 2 and 1

It was back and forth early, as no hole was tied until the fifth. The early battle was highlight by Altomare’s eagle at the par-5 second, but the American also made some costly mistakes on the front. Ciganda won Nos. 1, 3 and 7 with pars, and she led, 2 up, with six to play. That’s when Altomare, Team USA’s best putter, got hot with the flatstick. After a birdie at the par-5 13th, she rolled in a hard-breaking, 60-foot birdie putt at No. 14 to tie the match. Two holes later, she two-putted from 20 feet to go 1 up and then closed out the match with birdie on the penultimate hole.

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Altomare-Ciganda

Highlights: Solheim Cup Singles, Altomare-Ciganda

Match 25: Megan Khang (U.S.) def. Sophia Popov, 3 and 2

This was a matchup between players who combined to play just four sessions and earn aa half-point in two days. Khang stormed out of the gates with back-to-back birdies and captured three of the first four holes to take a quick 3-up lead, and she never let Popov back in it. Popov birdied the ninth, her first birdie of the match, to snap a three-bogey slide and get things back to 5 down, but Khang’s birdie at No. 11 expanded the lead back to 6 up. Though Popov won Nos. 13-15, she missed a short birdie at No. 16 to end the threat.

Match 26: Yealimi Noh (U.S.) def. Mel Reid, 1 up

The rookie jumped on the red-hot veteran, winning each of the first four holes. But Noh then played Nos. 5-13 in 5 over, and Reid pulled back to 2 down. Reid missed a 4-footer for par at No. 14 to fall back to 3 down, but she would claw back again, holing a 5-footer for birdie at No. 17 to send the match to No. 18. Noh then missed a 12-footer for par at the finishing hole, but Reid couldn't get a shortie to drop and her comeback fell just short.

Match 27: Jessica Korda (U.S.) def. Charley Hull, 2 and 1

Hull, who entered singles 12-4-3 all-time in the Solheim Cup, drained a 20-footer for birdie at the third hole to take the first lead of the match, 1 up. She then won the fourth after Korda whiffed on an awkward shot from the rough near the edge of a greenside bunker. But Korda didn't quit, and she took her first lead with a short par conversion at No. 14. She added to it two holes later by canning a 12-footer for birdie. Hull's 15-footer for birdie at No. 17 to extend the match didn't drop, but by then the cup had already been retained.

Match 28: Emily Kristine Pedersen (Europe) def. Danielle Kang, 1 up

Pedersen led, 1 up, on three different occasions on the front nine, but Kang birdied the ninth to re-tie the match. However, Kang's putter went cold. Bogeys at Nos. 10, 12 and 13 dropped the American to 3 down in the anchor match. A missed 5-footer for par by Kang at No. 15 clinched at least a winning half-point for Pedersen. So, even though the match came down to No. 18 and Kang finally rolled in a long birdie at the last (and Pedersen matched her), it didn't matter.