TOLEDO, Ohio (Reuters) – Matilda Castren sank a final hole put to ensure Team Europe retained the Solheim Cup before they went on to edge the United States 15-13 at the Inverness Club on Monday and win for only the second time on American soil.
The Finn steered in a right to left par putt on the 18th to edge Lizette Salas as Europe kept hold of the trophy with three matches to complete before a half point for Dane Emily Pedersen secured victory eight years after they last won on U.S. soil.
Europe started the day 9-7 ahead and sped to within touching distance of retaining the trophy before the Americans attempted a late comeback before faltering as the pressure mounted.
In the end, both teams won five singles with the other two halved. Pedersen sank a birdie on the 18th with the last stroke of a gripping day’s golf as Europe triumphed but celebrations were already underway after Castren finished one up over Salas.
“It was an amazing team effort after we got off to a great start this morning,” said Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew. “We knew it would be so tough with no European fans. I’m just so proud and happy for them.”
Rookie Leona Maguire beat Jennifer Kupcho five & four to pick up the first point of the final day and extend Europe’s overnight lead as she became the third player in Solheim Cup history to earn her team four or more points in a single competition.
It was quickly followed by Madelene Sagstrom bagging another point with a three & two win over Ally Ewing and then Celine Boutier completing a resounding five & four victory over Mina Harigae in a blemish free performance.
The much-anticipated contest between Anna Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson, who were the first singles pairing to tee off on the final day, was halved after 18 holes to take Europe even closer, but then began the U.S. fightback.
The first full point of the day for the Americans came from World No. 1 Nelly Korda, who beat Georgia Hall on the last hole at the end of a close contest that finally gave the partisan crowd reason to cheer.
Home momentum faltered as Austin Ernst missed a short birdie putt on the last and halved with Nanna Koerstz Madsen but then Megan Khang and Brittany Altomare revived American hopes to reduce Europe’s lead to 13-11.
Khang, who was six up at one stage, completed a three & two win over Sophia Popov while Altomare ended Carlota Ciganda’s unbeaten singles record in the Solheim Cup with a two & one victory.
But Salas faltered on the last to allow Castren to spark European celebrations and, while the Americans won two of the last three matches, Pedersen’s lead over Danielle Kang was big enough to survive a late mini-collapse and ensure cup success.
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru and Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)