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Europe staged an enthralling fightback to trail the United States 5-3 after a nightmare start to the Solheim Cup.

Captain Suzann Pettersen has claimed she has the “strongest ever team” at her disposal this year, but the Americans made a mockery of their apparent underdog status with a clean sweep of the morning foursomes at Finca Cortesin.

However, in an hour of tense drama on Friday evening, Europe claimed three points as all but one of the fourball matches were decided on the 18th in the dying light of the Costa del Sol.

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Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh was inspired on her Solheim debut, impressively securing half a point with Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom in their match against Megan Khang and the phenomenon Rose Zhang.

Europe’s talisman Leona Maguire, who claimed four points on her debut in 2021, then produced a magic chip-in for birdie at the last to secure victory with Georgia Hall against Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu.

Meanwhile, home favourite Carlota Ciganda and debutant Linn Grant dominated their match against Angel Yin and Ally Ewing in a vital 4&2 win.

There was a magical moment in the third match of the afternoon as Emily Pedersen struck just the second hole-in-one in Solheim Cup history on the par-3 12th.

And Swedish debutant Maja Stark then showed nerves of steel to sink a putt to secure a hard-fought point with Pedersen over Jennifer Kupcho and Allisen Corpuz to reduce the deficit to 5-3.

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Things had looked incredibly bleak for Pettersen’s side after a chastening start on Friday morning, but they will ride the wave of momentum after an epic finish to a dramatic opening day.

Pedersen and Charley Hull, who was battling a neck injury and rested for the afternoon session, were hammered 5&4 as Ewing and Cheyenne Knight secured the first point of this year’s match.

It was estimated that Hull and Pedersen were eight-over combined through their first nine holes. The dominance was such that the last match out on the course was the first to finish.

Stark and Grant admirably demanded to lead the way for Europe and fought back from three holes down to level against Thompson and Khang, but fell away to lose 2&1.

Hall and Celine Boutier were narrowly beaten by Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee, while Maguire and Anna Nordqvist were edged out by Corpuz and Nelly Korda.

But European camp is now buoyant after a resilient comeback, with Pettersen’s players delivering when it mattered most to leave the contest finely poised.

It’s all to play for heading into day two at Finca Cortesin.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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