Solheim Cup Saturday Final Notes: Europe Leads 5.5 – 2.5

The ninth at Inverness at the Solheim Cup

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OVERALL SCORE – EUROPE 5.5, USA 2.5

SATURDAY FOUR-BALL RESULTS – EUROPE 2, USA 2

Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing (USA) def. Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madelene Sagstrom (EUR), 1 up

Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas (USA) def. Carlota Ciganda and Sophia Popov (EUR), 1 up

Anna Nordqvist and Matilda Castren (EUR) def. Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigae (USA), 4 and 3

Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire (EUR) def. Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare (USA), 1 up

SATURDAY FOUR-BALL RECAPS

Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing (USA) def. Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madelene Sagstrom (EUR), 1 up

On paper, it very well could have been the biggest mismatch of the 2021 Solheim Cup. World No. 1 Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing, a two-time LPGA Tour champion in the last 11 months including the Bank of Hope Match-Play hosted by Shadow Creek, versus LPGA winner Madelene Sagstrom and Nanna Koerstz Madsen, the current Nos. 48 and 49 in the Rolex Rankings, respectively.

The underdogs struck first, going 2-up through two on a birdie-eagle start from Sagstrom. About the only thing that could slow the Swede down was a bee sting as she walked off No. 5 green. That same hole, Ewing sent a jolt of life into Team USA with a 25-foot birdie. The other half of the duo tied the match on No. 7, where Korda blistered a drive 310 down the middle, stuck it close and converted birdie.

“I think Madelene started off hot, made two birdies, and we certainly were a little out of sync for the first two holes,” Ewing said. “We changed our order and switched my ball number, and we got it back on track, started to play better golf.”

Ewing continued the wave of momentum, reaching the par-5 8th in two and two-putting before Koerstz Madsen responded with her own birdie on No. 9. The match was tied as they made the turn.

All was quiet until the 13th. Korda reached the par 5 in two and lined up a 27-foot eagle putt. The read, the roll, was all perfect, so much so that she fell to her knees as the ball sat overhanging the hole. But Sagstrom scooped up Korda’s ball to concede birdie, quicker than the allotted waiting time, which was a point of emphasis during the pre-tournament rules meeting on Wednesday. LPGA Tour Rules official Missy Jones stepped in to share the breach of the regulation and that Korda’s previous stroke was deemed to be holed.

“Obviously, I wasn’t following the rules about leaving the ball for 10 seconds. But I do believe in integrity and honor of the game of golf and I would never pick up a putt that had a chance to go in,” Sagstrom said. “I personally don’t agree with the decision about 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.”

“It was definitely awkward, and you don’t want to win a hole like that,” said Korda. “I got off the green, we were kind of talking and Missy already came up to us and was like, ‘I’m calling it in, I want to check it out.’ We didn’t even have a say, honestly. We told ourselves to focus on golf and finish it off.”

OFFICIAL RULING STATEMENT: Rule 13.3b states that “if the opponent in match play deliberately lifts or moves the player’s ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended, the player’s ball is treated as holed with the previous stroke, and there is no penalty to the opponent under Rule 11.2b.” The chief referee, match referee, observer and TV observer all deemed that Nelly Korda’s third shot on No. 13 was overhanging the hole and was picked up by her opponent before the waiting time had ended. Therefore, her third stroke was treated as holed.

Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas (USA) def. Carlota Ciganda and Sophia Popov (EUR), 1 up

The second afternoon match between Team Europe’s Sophia Popov and Carlota Ciganda and Team USA’s Lizette Salas and Jennifer Kupcho offered a nail-biting performance by both teams. USA’s duo won the 18th hole to bring home one point.

It was the Americans who won the second hole to take the early lead, but the Europeans managed to get to 2 up with birdies at 4, 5 and 7.

“We started off really great, we were 5-under on the front nine and we didn’t make any bogeys,” said Ciganda.

Team USA pulled back with wins at 8 and 10 to even the score and took a 1-up lead when both players birdied No. 14. Europe squared the match with a Popov birdie at No. 16, sparked by a spectacular approach shot.

It was all square coming down 18 when Salas hit a perfect second shot into a tough pin position and made the birdie putt to win the match and secure a crucial point for Team USA.

“I just embraced the moment. I knew what I had to do. Jen pretty much carried me all day. It was a great partnership, and I didn’t have to tell her anything before the round. I said, just do your thing and I’m here for you,” said Salas. “It was definitely a team effort, but I wanted to make that for her and for Team USA and for all the fans. We played our hearts out for that whole entire round, and to get it done on 18 in front of our team and our fans, our family, it meant a lot.”

“Kudos to [Team USA], they played really well, and they made those putts when it was necessary,” said Popov. “I think we actually played really well, ball-striking-wise both of us had a good day. We made quite a few putts, but we didn’t make the key putts in the key moments.”

Anna Nordqvist/Matilda Castren (EUR) def. Lexi Thompson/Mina Harigae (USA), 4 and 3

In the third match of the afternoon fourballs, European duo Anna Nordqvist and Matilda Castren returned to the scene of their morning success and picked up where they left off. The European pair went 1 up with a birdie on the second hole, but Americans Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigae fought back with the latter making a birdie on the next hole to level the match.

Seven-time Solheim Cup star Nordqvist then rolled in a birdie on the fourth and made a par on the sixth to put Team Europe 2 up. A solid run of form continued, and it was the Swede again who birdied the 10th and 13th to put the Europeans 4 up with five to play.

Thompson made a clutch putt on 14 to keep pace with Castren’s birdie and keep the match alive, but a tied hole on 15 secured a 4-and-3 victory for the Europeans.

“It’s been a great day for the both of us, and I really enjoyed playing with Matilda. She played great all day, and I think we’re just happy to see some blue on the board. They’re tough competitors, but I feel like we played great in the best ball and complemented each other pretty well,” said Nordqvist.

Castren added, “Getting two points is more than I could ask for and playing with Anna was great. I could really trust her. I just tried to do my best and tried to make some putts, and I managed to do that in the end. We had so much fun today. We both played great.”

Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire (EUR) def. Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare (USA), 1 up

Whisked off the green after a victorious Saturday foursome match with Mel Reid against Nelly and Jess Korda, Solheim Cup rookie Leona Maguire looked anything but new with teammate and major champion Georgia Hall. The duo went out in the afternoon and earned another point for Europe in the four-ball matches against American rookie Yealimi Noh and two-time U.S. Team member Brittany Altomare.  

After a long birdie putt at the first from Hall, the European squad quickly went 2 up on the second hole thanks to a birdie from Maguire. But the United States refused to go down without a fight. After two consecutive birdies by Noh on Nos. 6 and 7, the Americans went 1 up through the turn. Hall tied it again with a birdie at No. 10, a margin that remained until she made yet another crucial birdie at 15 to regain the lead 1 up on the United States. Hall and Maguire sealed the 1-up victory on No. 18 when Noh and Altomare failed to birdie. 

“It was good fun. I think we played better the back nine and managed to hit some good shots in, so obviously very pleased to get a point,” said Hall. 

Hall, who led in birdies with 253 heading into the competition, improves her overall Solheim four-ball record to 2-2-0 over her three starts for the European Team. Maguire remains undefeated through her first-ever matches in the Solheim Cup. Both players will tee off in different pairings for the Sunday morning foursomes, and the first Irishwoman on the European Solheim Cup team looks to continue her hot start in her dream event. 

“We played some great golf today and we knew they would, so it was a case of staying patient, hanging in there. We fought back and we were 1 down at the turn. We knew we had to stay patient,” said Maguire. “Georgia made some nice birdies right when we needed it, and yeah, it was nice to get that win in the end over two really good golfers.” 

UPDATED COMPETITION SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)

Sunday, Sept. 5

Foursomes – 7:15-7:51 a.m.

Fourball – 12:05-12:50 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 6

Singles – 12:05-1:55 p.m.

TV TIMES (all times Eastern)

Sunday, Sept. 5 – 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., Golf Channel; 12-1:30 p.m., NBC; 1:30-5:30, Golf Channel

Monday, Sept. 6 – 12-6 p.m., Golf Channel

WHITELINE PAR AND YARDAGE

36-36–72, 6,903 yards (par and yardage are subject to change through the start of the competition)

via LPGA

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