Americans retain Solheim Cup
By LUKE MEREDITH
The Associated Press
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup.
“I was just, like, ‘I just have to go all in and go for it all,’ “ Thompson said.
Her U.S. teammates followed her lead and the Americans finished off their most-decisive Solheim Cup victory in over 20 years, beating Europe 16 1/2-11 1/2 on Sunday at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer won key matches, and Gerina Piller sealed it with a birdie putt that put her 3 up over Florentyna Parker with three to play in a 4-and-2 victory.
“They just bonded. They believed in each other. They played for the person behind them and in front of them. And they played some amazing golf,” said Juli Inkster, who joined Judy Rankin as the only U.S. captains to win the Solheim Cup twice.
Honolulu’s Michelle Wie lost to Europe’s Caroline Masson, 4 and 2, in singles play Sunday to finish the tournament with one win and two losses for the U.S. Wie, who has played in every Solheim Cup since 2009, is now 8-9-1 in the event.
The Americans are 10-5 in the biennial tournament after their biggest win since a 17-11 triumph in 1996 in Wales. They rallied to win in Germany in 2015, and have taken five of the last seven matches.
Kerr beat Mel Reid 2 and 1 for her record-extending 21st point in the competition, and Creamer edged Georgia Hall 1 up to raise her total to 19 1/2 — second on the U.S. career list.
Thompson ended up halving with Anna Nordqvist, and Angel Yin halved with Karine Icher as the teams split the 12 singles matches. Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang also won for the U.S. Salas edged Jodi Ewart Shadoff 1 up, and Kang beat Emily Pedersen 3 and 1.
For Europe, Catriona Matthew beat Stacy Lewis 1 up, Charley Hull edged Brittany Lang 1 up, Carlota Ciganda beat Brittany Lincicome 4 and 3, and Madelene Sagstrom defeated Austin Ernst 3 and 2.
“We just got outplayed, no doubt about it,” European captain Annika Sorenstam said. “I’m just so proud of how hard they fought. What can I say? Just congratulate the USA because they played some awesome golf.”
Her team five points down entering the day, Sorenstam tried to keep the mood light by dressing up in a blue and yellow Viking hat and wig and dancing for the cameras before play began.
Nordqvist did her best to set the tone for the Europeans in the opening match, winning the first four holes.
But after a birdie on No. 10, Thompson holed out from 112 yards for eagle on the 11th hole — a shot so impressive that even Nordqvist was compelled to high-five her.
The 22-year-old Thompson followed with an eagle putt on the 15th hole, and a birdie on 16 put her ahead for the first time. Though Nordqvist rallied, earning the half-point by sticking her 154-yard approach on No. 18 within a foot, an American win was inevitable after Thompson’s run.
“To me, that was like six points,” Inkster said. “It’s probably fitting they both got half a point. Both played amazingly. It just shows the heart of her and her determination. You think she’s out of it and then the switch goes off.”
Nordqvist went 3-0-1 during the week to lead the Europeans.
Creamer was 3-1 filling in for the injured Jessica Korda, matching Kang and Salas for the top U.S. records. Creamer kept her celebration muted following Hall’s missed 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole. But this was a huge bounce back event for Creamer after her recent struggles kept her off the U.S. roster until Korda got hurt.
“For Juli to play me four matches, you know — I knew my game was there, but obviously it didn’t look like it was,” Creamer said.