Europe take early lead in Colorado
Last updated: 17th August 2013
No one said it would be easy, but with Suzann Pettersen and Caroline Hedwall in outstanding form, Europe surged into a 5-3 after the opening day at the Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club near Denver. The historic first win on US soil is a little bit closer.
With a 3-1 lead from the morning foursomes, a 2-all draw in the afternoon fourballs made it a good day's work for Captain Liselotte Neumann and her team of doughty fighters.
The most extraordinary point came on the final green from Pettersen and rookie Carlota Ciganda in the top match against world No.2 Stacy Lewis and the big-hitting 18-year-old Lexi Thompson.
Ciganda was making her Solheim debut and it was Pettersen who held the partnership together over the early part of the match.
All square at the long 15th, the two Americans were just short of the green in two and Pettersen, unusually, was in all sorts of trouble and picked up.
Ciganda, who had contributed a fine birdie at the 13th, was also in a heap of bother, hitting her second into the lateral water hazard on the right side of the fairway.
After taking a penalty drop, the Spaniard hit to 15 feet just off the left side of the green and remarkably holed the putt for the most amazing of par fives.
Stunned, both Lewis and Thompson failed to make birdie and to rub salt in the US wounds, Pettersen then birdied the long 16th to take a one shot lead and pars at 17 and 18 secured another blue point on the board.
"This competition brings out the best," said a delighted Pettersen. "I'm so proud of the youngsters. Carlota was a superstar and I'm so pleased that she has got her first Solheim point."
Ciganda acknowledged another superb Solheim display from the world No.3. "Suzann played great," she acknowledged. "I didn't play very well but got the birdie to win at 13 and then the five at the 15th."
The second European point came from another rookie, Caroline Masson, and Hedwall, who joined Pettersen as a double winner on day one. They defeated Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller 2 and 1.
"Caroline holed a lot of great putts," said Hedwall. "I'm pleased to have had two wins today and ready to do 36-holes again tomorrow if need be."
Masson added: "You can't get a better day than this. Caroline was a great partner."
The mini USA fight back came from the two Brittanys, Lincicome and Lang. They claimed the first win of the afternoon, beating Anna Nordqvist and rookie Giulia Sergas 4 and 3.
The shot of the match came from Lang, who holed out of a bunker at the 14th.
In the final match, Michelle Wie, a controversial wild card selection, repaid Captain Meg Mallon's faith by partnering Cristie Kerr - who had suffered a shock loss with Paula Creamer in the foursomes - to a 2 and 1 victory over Catriona Matthew and 17-year-old Charley Hull.
Hull, the youngest ever Solheim player, bombed her drive from the first tee, but Wie, who chipped in from 35-feet for a birdie at the 13th, and Kerr proved too strong in a 2 and 1 win.
The morning foursomes could hardly have gone better for the Europeans. Nordqvist and Hedwall gave the visitors the perfect lead with a 4 and 2 win over Lewis and Lizette Salas.
The bottom match was also key with Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher making three birdies in a row from the eighth in a 2 and 1 victory over the formidable pairing of Kerr and Paula Creamer.
In between, Pettersen and super rookie Beatriz Recari overcame Lang and Stanford 2 and 1 and the only reverse was a 3 and 2 loss for Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda.
"Absolutely delighted," was European Captain Liselotte Neumann's reaction to her side taking a 5-3 lead after the first day of the Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club.
"The key was making such a good start in the morning."
For USA Captain Meg Mallon, the aim is to claw back the points before the final day singles.
"My side struggled with the greens and the Europeans made more putts," she said. "But I felt better about the afternoon play and, hopefully, we can get the points back tomorrow."
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