Carlota Ciganda leads the European reaction in the exciting start of the Solheim Cup

Carlota Ciganda

In the afternoon, The European team recovers part of what was lost in the morning, to place the score at 3-5 at the start of the tournament being played at the Finca Cortesin course in Malaga.

At 13:40 hours on Friday, September 22, 2023, came another historic milestone of the Solheim Cup 2023: the crowded stands of the tee of hole 1 of Finca Cortesin roared, roared for real, as Carlota Ciganda has wanted since before the start of the competition.

It had already done so, it is true, early in the morning, when the first group of players seeking victory in the Solheim Cup 2023, at Finca Cortesin, faced the pairs matches.

However, the hustle and bustle of this iconic place of any Solheim Cup, where so many passions are concentrated as the starting point of so many feats, was waiting for the special moment to roar, to roar for real, the moment when Carlota Ciganda, local idol, hit the ball with the intention of taking it to the green, 240 meters, several bunkers and lots of water beyond.

The golfer from Navarre, the only Spanish representative in the most important women’s golf tournament in the world, a 100% Solheim Cup player, who transforms herself, who gets involved, who generates and spreads passions, was in action.

She, along with seven other European teammates, faced the enormous challenge of straightening out an adverse situation of historic connotations. In the morning, during the Foursomes, the United States had inflicted a result never seen before, 0-4, reflecting an overwhelming superiority.

The morning only had the colour of the stars and stripes for the North American team, a well-oiled machine that quickly resolved the duel between Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight – a victory on the 14th hole by 5/4 – before quelling any hint of a reaction in the other three matches, one of them on the 17th hole and two more on the 18th.

With such a complicated situation Carlota Ciganda, started the day with her partner Linn Grant and the rest of the European representatives in action, the new proposal of the captain Suzzane Pettersen to minimize a bleeding that needed urgent healing.

Carlota Ciganda threw herself into the task with all her might, scoring a spectacular birdie on hole 1 to take the lead. The spectators, once again, roared with the Navarrese golfer, aware that the European team needed a great boost to counteract such a delicate situation.

Shaken by the need to react, the duel between Europeans and Americans entered a phase of tremendous equality, where every hit and every miss generated sharp but small differences in the balance of the scales, which went from equilibrium to advantage by one hole on the part of one team or the other.

The Spanish fans – and many European fans – focused their attention on the match between Carlota Ciganda and Sweden’s Linn Grant, 2 up on hole 4 thanks to another birdie by the Spaniard, 1 up on hole 6 as a result of a birdie by the American, Yin.

Further on, at other points on the course, an incredible hole-in-1 from 163 metres by the Dane Emily K. Pedersen on the 12th hole; an approach from 60 metres by the Scot Gemma Dryburgh on the 14th; a wonderful chip by the Englishwoman Georgia Hall on the 18th… gave extra energy to a European team that needed all kinds of successes and motivation to overcome their tough final team.

With scores of 0-8 in favour of the United States or a 4-4 draw, anything was possible, such was the accumulated uncertainty, when both teams faced the last holes of the course, a final stretch where an American triumph and two draws took place, one of them after a wonderful putt by Sweden’s Maja Stark.

Because before that, Carlota Ciganda and her partner Linn Grant had already clinched their victory, the only resounding victory of the afternoon, by 4/2, the palpable confirmation that the Spaniard is a 100% Solheim player, who transforms herself, who gets involved, who generates and spreads passions.

MATCH BY MATCH: Afternoon reaction gives Europe a lift,

Large US lead in the morning minimised

The United States built a large and historic lead at the start of the competition, a 4-0 lead that forced the European team to stage a remarkable comeback in the afternoon Fourballs. The Americans had clearly dominated the last game in the morning and controlled the rest of the match well in the decisive moment. In the afternoon, Carlota Ciganda and Linn Grant led the long-awaited reaction that gives Europe air for the second and third day.

FRIDAY MORNING FOURSOMES: United States, 4 – Europe, 0

Lexi Thompson – Meghan Kang (USA) beat Meja Stark – Linn Grant (Europe) by 2/1.

The Swedish pairing, the choice of captain Suzzane Petersen to start the competition, two players with no previous experience in the Solheim Cup, gave a good image, but could not avoid defeat against the success of two veterans in these matters. The Americans swept their opponents in the first three holes, taking advantage of two bogeys by the Europeans. From then on, the Swedish pair gradually closed the gap with patience, taking advantage of a couple of mistakes to go 1 under on the 11th hole and draw level with a birdie on the 13th. It was a mirage because, at the moment of truth, on the final holes, the value of experience imposed its law.

Andrea Lee – Danielle Kang (USA) beat Celine Boutier – Georgia Hall (Europa) by 1up

An opening birdie allowed the American pair to take the lead in a match characterised by equality. Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall were very brave and took the lead on the 6th hole, the starting point of several alternatives that generated advantages in favour of both sides as a result of aggressive and very colourful play. A great birdie by Georgia Hall on the 12th brought the match back to a draw, a parity that was maintained until the 16th. It was then, on the following hole, when a timely birdie by Andrea Lee was the final straw for the Europeans.

Nelly Korda – Allisen Corpuz (USA) beat Leona Maguire – Anna Nordqvist (EUR) by 1up.

One of Suzann Pettersen’s strongest pairings just missed out on a point. Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Ireland’s Leona Maguire got off to the best possible start, taking the lead on the 1st. Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz, two world top 10 players, won holes 3, 4 and 5 and only gave up the lead briefly after two consecutive birdies from Europe on the 6th and 7th. But Nelly Korda is very much Nelly Korda, and her magic came to the fore on the 9th and 11th. The match tightened on the 16th with a good birdie finished off by Leona Maguire. With two holes to go to try and salvage half a point on a tough morning, the Europeans took their chances to avoid a 4-0 lead, but Anna Nordqvist’s last putt, from about two metres, didn’t go in either.

Ally Ewing/Cheyenne Knight (USA) beat Charley Hull – Emily Kristine Pedersen (EUR) 5/4

The match to forget was the one that closed the Foursomes this Friday. Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight, on fire all morning, have won unceremoniously to Charley Hull and Emily Kristine Pedersen by 5/4. The Americans practically sentenced the duel between holes 4 and 9, resolved with a partial five up. Europe did not ‘plug’ their first birdie until the 10th hole, when they lowered the score to 5up. It was only a mirage, because Hull and Pedersen did not make another birdie and the match was closed on the 14th hole.

FRIDAY EVENING FOURBALLS: Europe, 3 – United States, 1

Gemma Dryburgh – Madelene Sagstrom (EUR) draw with Rose Zhang – Megan Khang (USA)

The first half point for Europe came from two veteran players, but with little experience in the Solheim world. It did not show on the green, because Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom knew how to control the Rose Zhang effect, even when the Americans were two up on the 10th hole. Europe equalized the duel on the 14th with a birdie by Sagstrom, and there was no more movement on the scoreboard. Rose Zhang had the last putt to win the match, from about ten feet, but it narrowly missed.

Leona Maguire – Georgia Hall (EUR) beat Lexi Thompson – Lilia Vu (USA) by 1up.

Possibly the match of the afternoon. Europe had it under control, always by the minimum, between holes 4 and 13. On the 15th, Europe again gained a slight advantage, but Lilia Vu still had an ace up her sleeve: a wonderful putt to equalize the match on the 17th. With the tension sky-high, these four golfers stepped on the 18th tee. Hugs and more hugs, but it was not all sold out yet. Lexi Thompson had another approach to make it for birdie, but the shot was flawed. The tension? Maybe. That’s when half a point slipped away from the Americans in a magnificent duel.

Emily Pedersen – Maja Stark (EUR) tied with Jennifer Kupcho – Allisen Corpuz (USA)

Half a point suffered and sweated by the European team. The United States dominated the scoreboard for the most part during the first eleven holes. The few birdies and a high dose of tension led the match with a minimal advantage of the foreign pair formed in which Jennifer Kupcho made her debut in the competition. Europe equalized the match on the 12th hole with the shot of the day, a monumental hole in one by Emily Kristine Pedersen leaning on the left front green that left without effect the strokes of her three partners in the match. The Dane needed a joy like that. However, one hole later the 1up came back to the American side with Kupcho’s birdie and Pedersen’s own tie. It was back to square one. The 18th was reached with a draw, and there a good putt for birdie by Maja Stark closed the day.

Linn Grant – Carlota Ciganda (EUR) beat Angel Yin – Ally Ewing (USA) by 4/2

Carlota Ciganda’s individual participation in ‘her’ Solheim could not have started better. The Navarre has added a point that can be gold, Sunday will be seen, by the hand of Linn Grant. Both have controlled the match from the first hole, in which the Spanish, far from feeling any pressure, scored a good birdie. The advantage of the locals, supported by a human tide, ranged between 1up and 2up. Angel Yin and Ally Ewing, two experienced players, easily made birdie, but they had a wall in front of them, with special mention for Carlota Ciganda who made six birdies in sixteen holes. Precisely with Carlota’s birdie on the 14th -celebrated with her fist in the wind- the match was practically sentenced. Linn Grant could have closed it on the 15th; she did not do it, but the match did not go beyond the 16th.

FRIDAY RESULT: Europe, 3 – United States, 5.

The Solheim Cup 2023, an event of exceptional public interest whose official venue is Finca Cortesin, is sponsored by PING, Costa del Sol Tourism and Rolex as global partners; and by the Consejería de Turismo, Cultura y Deporte de la Junta de Andalucía, with co-financing from the European Union, Acosol, the Marbella Town Hall and the Benahavís Town Hall as official partners, and Casares Town Hall and Reale Seguros are official sponsors. Solán de Cabras, Eversheds Sutherland, Toro, Vithas, E-Z-GO, Jet Set Sports and Olin are official suppliers. BMW Automotor Premium is official sustainability car. Peninsula and Trablisa are sustainability partners. Marca and Radio Marca are official media. Promoted and organised by Deporte & Business. Gusto del Sur, DOP Jabugo and Málaga are Proud Supporters. LET, LPGA, RFEG, CSD and RFGA collaborate in its organisation.

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