- The European team, with Carlota Ciganda winning both her matches, came from behind on the second day to finish with a total of eight points
Europe has seriously scratched the resistance of the United States with one day to go in the Solheim Cup, bringing the score to an eight-way tie that raises all kinds of expectations.
The European team is on course for what would be another milestone in the history of the Solheim Cup: its third consecutive triumph after those achieved in the 2019 and 2021 editions, a succession of successes never achieved so far.
On Saturday morning, the American push that had been so evident during the morning round on Friday was contained, which then took the form of an unassailable 0-4 lead that set all the alarm bells ringing.
Such an imbalance did not, however, discourage European captain Suzanne Pettersen from keeping three of the four pairings that lost their matches the previous day, limiting the changes needed to contain a possible new haemorrhage to the presence of Carlota Ciganda, alongside Denmark’s Emily Pedersen, in the first of the matches.
The intention was for both to act as the stiletto in what were thought to be vital clashes in the future of the tournament. The strategy proved to be half right in view of the partial result, a 2-2 draw, which served to maintain expectations for the afternoon’s Fourballs.
The best thing, however, what was beginning to take shape with increasing intensity, was the leading role of Ciganda, excellently teamed up with Emily Pedersen, who achieved a contagious victory that allowed them to act from that moment on as cheerleaders for their team-mates, as cheerleaders for the stands, that fundamental external role to turn the Solheim Cup into a real party and to give the European team an extra point of necessary motivation.
With 5-7 on the scoreboard, the afternoon session began, a vital moment to define expectations for the final round of twelve individual matches. The atmosphere was heating up, the ‘sorpaso’ was palpable in the air, a European initiative that, after a day and a half played, became a reality when Ciganda made a spectacular birdie on the 6th hole, also very well celebrated by her partner Linn Grant.
The action generated, for the first time since the start of the competition, the first European advantage in the overall score, 8.5 to 7.5 certified with a huge ovation from the stands.
There was still half a world to go before the end of the day, but everything was working perfectly. Charlie Hull and Leona Maguire swept Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing while the other three matches showed short but significant advantages, two of them in favour of Europe.
The good shots from the tee, and those approaching the green before completing with accurate putts, followed one after the other on the European side in the face of American bewilderment, which weathered as best it could the festival of play of its rival.
Birdie after birdie by Pedersen – up to 8 in a wonderful match -, birdie after birdie in Ciganda’s duel, where twenty-one were made between the four players, the confrontation between Europeans and Americans reached its highest levels of spectacle.
After two rounds of competition, both teams are in the hunt for glory. Sixteen matches in between, dozens and dozens of alternatives and portentous strokes later, everything is as it was at the start, a draw on the scoreboard, twelve individual matches on the horizon and Ciganda, as one of the undisputed leaders, proclaiming to the four winds, vamos, vamos girls!
INTERVIEW CARLOTA CIGANDA:
A magnificent Fourball
I played very well. I got on very well with Linn (Grant), his way of playing golf is very similar to mine, he likes to be aggressive.
It was a great match. Between the four players we made 30 birdies and three eagles. And Linn and I were 12 under through 17 holes. We played very solid golf and the course, with the wind, was not easy. We made a lot of putts and we could have made some more. The truth is that I feel very comfortable playing with Linn, she gives me a lot of confidence. She is very solid from tee to green, and today she was also very good with the putt.
Great atmosphere on the 17th green
This area on 16 and 17 is wonderful. The atmosphere has been incredible, with the public, my family, my friends… and above all to win that point to go out tomorrow tied with the USA and give us the option of victory.
One of the mainstays of the team, with three games, three points.
I love playing in Spain, I get on very well with Suzann Pettersen, I want to win almost more for her than for me and I’ve told her I’m going to give everything until the end. You can win or not, but I will give everything tomorrow.
Preference in the order of the singles matches
Tomorrow we play a little later, which will give me more time to rest tonight because today has been quite a long day. I have no preference in the order of play. Whatever the captain decides will be fine. I don’t care if I play early or late. I will go all out for it.
SUZANN PETTERSEN STATEMENTS
I am super proud of my team, what they have done is amazing.
Yesterday in the Player’s Room I spoke to them from the heart and told them it can be done. It’s a competition where energy, passion, momentum play an important role.
It was difficult to decide who was going to play in the afternoon so I went by the stats and made the teams as best we could, and it worked.
You can’t take away the importance of the individual matches. They are very tough but we know we can win. Today it’s time to rest and tomorrow to go out and be strong once again.
It’s impressive what Carlota is doing, it’s not easy for her because she puts a lot of pressure on herself, especially playing at home.
MATCH BY MATCH SATURDAY: 3-1 in the Fourballs balances the Solheim Cup
Sunday’s matchday at Finca Cortesín could not have been more uncertain and, therefore, more exciting. The victory in the last match of the day by Carlota Ciganda, who is still determined to say goodbye to her sixth Solheim Cup with a full house of victories, and Linn Grant has left the scoreboard in a tie at eight points that invites to think of a memorable Sunday in the Malaga course.
The day has left spectacular moments both in the morning Foursomes – here is the exhibition of Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz against one of the strongest European pairings – and in the afternoon Fourballs, which have seen the successful return to the course of Charley Hull, and the debut of Caroline Hedwall.
Carlota Ciganda – Emily Pedersen (Europe) beat Lilia Vu – Jennifer Kupcho (USA) by 2/1.
Building on the reaction of the previous day, captain Suzann Pettersen put Carlota Ciganda in the lead alongside Emily Pedersen of Denmark. The stands on the tee of hole 1 roared and the machinery was set in motion to deepen the turnaround in the scoreboard. The pair took a strong lead with two points on the 5th and 6th holes, but were immediately countered by the Americans on the 7th and 8th holes. Two European birdies on the 10th and 13th holes gave way to a spectacular American birdie on the 15th which raised the tension to the maximum. It was Carlota Ciganda, with a decisively executed putt on the 17th hole, who added the first European point to the day’s scoreboard.
Anna Nordqvist – Leona Maguire (Europe) lost to Lexi Thompson – Danielle Kang (USA) by 1up.
Sweden and Ireland repeated the experience in the Foursome, this time taking the lead with some clarity throughout the first round, dominated by the Europeans until three consecutive bogeys, between holes 9 and 11, led to the Americans to take the lead. A great birdie by Nordqvist on the 14th put the match back to square one. On the par 3 17th, a ball thrown into the tee bunker by Nordqvist herself allowed the Americans to score the next point, an advantage that was to be the definitive one.
Nelly Korda – Allisen Corpuz (USA) beat Georgia Hall – Celine Boutier (EUR) by 5/3
The pairing of Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier was expected to be one of the strongest of the European team, but the truth is that they have not performed as well in the Foursomes as expected. They didn’t finish on Friday and neither did they do it on Saturday against Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz, who already proved to be winners in their first Foursome.
The match had no history: two American birdies to start and from then on, to row against the tide. Korda and Corpuz gradually extended their lead (3up on 7, 4up on 11, 5up on 13) against a European pair who could only make three birdies all morning. The only joy was Georgia Hall’s beautiful long putt for birdie at the 14th, which delayed the verdict.
Maja Stark – Linn Grant (EUR) beat Danielle Kang – Andrea Lee (USA) by 1up.
The last match of the morning was crucial for Europe not to fall behind on the scoreboard, and the European pair did not fail. Neither did the American, who, thanks to Andrea Lee’s spectacular putting, stayed in the match at all times; so much so that she forced Linn Grant to make a remarkable birdie on the 18th hole to win. The match was a rollercoaster ride, especially from the 8th hole onwards, which was absolutely thrilling. The visitors never took the lead. Europe did everything they could to extend their lead, but Lee and Kang not only did not allow them to do so, but also managed to draw level on four occasions. The highlight of the match was Maja Stark’s sensational putt on the 17th hole to retake the lead. Linn Grant on the 18th hole secured a win that was more than just a point.
SATURDAY EVENING FOURBALLS: Europe, 3 – USA, 1
Charley Hull – Leona Maguire (EUR) beat Nelly Korda – Ally Ewing (USA) by 4/3.
One fact sums up the match: it was the biggest lead for the Europeans so far in the Solheim Cup. The Old Continent took the lead on hole 2 and from that moment on they increased their advantage, first on hole 4, with 2up, and then on holes 7 and 8 with 3up and 4up.
The Americans were rowing against the tide, but they pulled their nerve and managed to win their first, and in the end, only hole on the 10th, reducing the difference to 3up for the Europeans. However, Leona Maguire birdied the 12th hole to set the stage for the final 4/3 victory at the 15th hole.
Cheyenne Knight – Angel Yin (USA) beat Anna Nordqvist – Caroline Hedwall (EUR) by 2up.
Caroline Hedwall made her Solheim Cup debut in this match and in the company of her long-time partner Anna Nordqvist, who has not quite got the hang of the competition (0-3 so far). They did not get off to a winning start because Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin played at a very high level, especially in the second half of the match.
Europe was ahead until the 10th with a lead that reached two holes, but at that point there was a blackout: from there, only three birdies with European seal fell. The Americans took advantage of this, especially Angel Yin, who was on a roll and made three birdies in a row to take the hole. From 2up for Europe it was 1up for the United States in three holes, a blow from which Hedwall and Nordqvist never recovered.
Madelene Sagstrom – Emily Pedersen beat Rose Zhang – Andrea Lee (USA) by 2-1.
Europe’s second point of the afternoon is of enormous merit. A point, moreover, that makes Suzann Pettersen’s bet on Emily Pedersen, who came in second with the highest ranking and is going to say goodbye having played all five points, a point that makes Suzann Pettersen’s bet on Emily Pedersen right. In this Fourball she has shown that she is going to more, signing eight birdies -the rest, pars- in seventeen holes and showing a very fine putt.
Rose Zhang and Andrea Lee only dominated during the first two holes, when a magical tee shot by Rose Zhang allowed her to opt for an eagle that announced a visiting party that in the end was not such. On the third, Europe levelled the score, and from that moment on, control was theirs. However, their advantage was minimal until Pedersen’s umpteenth birdie on the 15th practically put the match to bed.
Carlota Ciganda – Linn Grant (EUR) beat Danielle Kang – Lilia Vu (USA) by 2/1
It is possibly the match with the highest level of golf that has been seen in these two days of intense competition, and in it was Carlota Ciganda, who is already three for three. Attention to this fact: at the 8th hole, both Carlota Ciganda and Linn Grant had six birdies apiece, and even with that they only won by 1up. This is because the Americans were defending themselves with a splendid game from tee to green.
The captain was right to put Carlota Ciganda and Linn Grant together again. They have a special connection that can be seen in every gesture, in every fist in the air, like the one the Spaniard made on the 9th after an anthological putt to save the hole. Curiously, the turning point in Europe’s favour came with an American hit. Danielle Kang holed a good putt for birdie on the 10th, a par 3, and that spurred on the locals: Grant birdied the 11th and Carlota parred the 12th, another par 3, both with the jackpot of taking the hole. Europe did not relinquish the lead and scored their eighth point on the back of a memorable pair.
PROVISIONAL SCORE: Europe, 8- United States, 8
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