Madelene Sagstrom reduced to tears as Europe dominate day one of Solheim Cup

Madelene Sagstrom was reduced to tears after being involved in a controversial incident which marred a superb first day for Europe in their defence of the Solheim Cup in Toledo.

Catriona Matthew’s side ended the day with the three-point lead they had earned from the morning foursomes, but all the talk afterwards was of what happened in the first afternoon fourball match.

Nelly Korda’s eagle putt on the 13th hole at Inverness Club stopped on the edge of the hole, but her ball was swiftly picked up by Sagstrom, conceding a birdie.

However, Sagstrom was deemed to have not waited long enough and world number one Korda was credited with an eagle to win the hole and move one up.

Under Rule 13.3, if any part of the ball is overhanging the lip the player is allowed a ‘reasonable time’ to reach the hole and then 10 seconds to see if the ball would drop.

Sagstrom, playing partner Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Matthew argued that the ball was not going to drop in, but the ruling of the on-course official was confirmed.

Korda and Ally Ewing went on to complete a narrow victory on the 18th, after which a visibly upset Sagstrom told Sky Sports: “Obviously I wasn’t following the rules about leaving the ball for 10 seconds, but I do believe in integrity and honour of the game of golf and I would never pick up a putt that had a chance to go in.

Madelene Sagstrom
Madelene Sagstrom drives on the 11th tee during a fourball match on day one of Solheim Cup (Carlos Osorio/AP)

“I personally don’t agree with the decision with the ball being on the edge, but I didn’t follow the 10-second rule, so it sucks right now because I feel like I let my team down.”

Madsen said spectators were “yelling terrible stuff” at Sagstrom in the wake of the incident, adding: “It was just not fun for Madelene to be in that position.

“I think she felt bad, and she really shouldn’t. Golf shouldn’t go down to a putt that would never have gone in. She didn’t do anything.”

Korda described the situation on the 13th as “very unfortunate” and said the American pair had not asked for a ruling.

Nelly Korda
Ally Ewing, left, and Nelly Korda celebrate their win on the 18th green (Carlos Osorio/AP)

“By the time I got off the green they were reviewing everything and we honestly had no say in it. It was all up to the rules committee, “Korda said.

“It feels weird, obviously, but they did the best that they could with the situation that they had at hand.”

Anna Nordqvist and Matilda Castren had already beaten Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigae 4 and 3 to secure a second point of the day following a foursomes win over Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst on the 18th.

And after Lizette Salas had birdied the 18th to give herself and Jennifer Kupcho victory over Carlota Ciganda and Sophia Popov, Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire defeated Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare on the last.

In the morning foursomes, Mel Reid and Leona Maguire had overcome the previously unbeaten Korda sisters, who won 6 and 4 and 6 and 5 in the same format at Gleneagles in 2019.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my Solheim career,” Maguire said. “Very lucky to have Mel alongside me.

“I think everybody had written us off today, and we just sort of took that in our stride and wanted to be as relentless and fearless as possible, and I feel like we did that.”

Reid was quick to pay tribute to her playing partner, adding: “Honestly I could not be more impressed with this girl.

“She’s some player and I’m just really, really proud of the way she handled herself and she’s a very, very impressive girl, so it was an honour to play with her in the first match.”

The home side looked set for a win when Ewing and Megan Khang were two up with two to play against Hall and Celine Boutier, who were unbeaten at Gleneagles in 2019.

However, Hall holed from 15 feet for birdie to win the 17th and a par was good enough on the last to snatch half a point, Ewing failing to hit the hole from three feet with a putt to win the match.

And there was even more good news in the final match as Charley Hull and Emily Kristine Pedersen recovered from two down with four to play to beat Thompson and Brittany Altomare on the last.