Solheim Cup: US routs Europe to take convincing lead

Juli Inkster

The United States of America whitewashed Europe for the first-ever time in a Solheim Cup session to take a commanding 5½-2½ lead into the second day of this year’s contest at Des Moines.

Juli Inkster’s side produced an inspired performance to win all four of the afternoon fourballs matches.

Lizette Salas and big-hitting rookie Angel Yin set the tone with a thumping 6&5 win over Carlota Ciganda and Emily Pedersen in the second match out. Danielle Kang and Michelle Wie followed them home with a 3&1 victory over Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Madelene Sagstrom, before the two Brittanys – Lang and Lincicome – put Caroline Masson and Florentyna Parker to the sword, 3&2 the scoreline.

Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller completed the rout with a 2&1 win over Charley Hull and Gerogia Hall.

Europe led at no point in any of the matches in the afternoon, winning just seven the 63 holes completed.

The scoreline equals the joint biggest lead a team has held after the first day of the Solheim Cup. The US led 5½-2½ after day one in 1998, with Europe returning the favour in 2000. On both occasions, they went on to win, the US by a 16-12 scoreline in 1998 and Europe 14½-11½ in 2000.

Getty Images 835168738

The underdogs' fast start

On a nervy first morning, Europe edged into a 2½-1½ lead after the opening foursomes session, continuing an unbeaten run in this format that now stretches back to the second day of the 2013 match.

Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall set the tone with a 3&1 victory over Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst. Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas evened things up with a one-up win over Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson in the second match, before Melissa Reid and Charley Hull let slip a ‘two-up with two to play’ lead to halve their match with Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr.

However, playing in the anchor match, alongside Frenchwoman Karine Icher, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew bagged her 20th Solheim Cup point as they took down Gerina Piller and Stacy Lewis by one hole. The US pair had been two-up through ten before Matthew and Icher won back-to-back holes to square the match after 14. They moved ahead for the first time on 16 and clung on to win.

Matthew, a late replacement for the injured Suzann Pettersen earlier in the week, now moves to third outright on the all-time Solheim Cup points-scorer standings. Only Laura Davies (25) and this week’s European skipper Annika Sorenstam (24) have won more points than the Scot.

However, all of the morning’s hard work was undone by a wretched afternoon fourballs session.


Captains' comments

Juli Inkster: "I thought my team played really well in the morning matches. We competed really well. In the afternoon, we were inspired. They played with a lot of pride and a lot of heart. So it was a good day, but it was just the first day. This is a distance run. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I know that Annika is going to have her team fired up to come at us tomorrow and we've got to match their intensity. There are eight points to be won tomorrow. That's a lot of points and we want to get as many of them as we can."

Annika Sorenstam: "It was one of those days - but it's important to remember it was just the first day. We need to forget about it. Tomorrow's a new day and we'll come out and try to put as many points on the board as we can. We'll start fresh in the morning. One thing I know is that the spirit is still there in the team. If anything, it's stronger now."

Sorenstam on Charley Hull's wrist injury: "I think everybody knows Charley has had some problems with her wrist and that's why she's sitting out tomorrow morning. I'm not sure of the full extent of it but I'll be speaking to the physio tonight to try to find out more. But Charley's Charley. She wants to play. She was sitting icing the wrist in the team room at lunchtime today. I was like, 'Are you going to be good to go this afternoon?' and she assured me she was."

Solheim Spectators

Saturday morning foursomes

Jodi Ewart Shadoff / Caroline Masson vs Cristie Kerr / Lexi Thompson (7.10am)
Mel Reid / Emily Pedersen vs Paula Creamer / Austin Ernst (7.22am)
Anna Nordqvist / Georgia Hall vs Stacy Lewis / Gerina Piller (7.34am)
Catriona Matthew / Karine Icher vs Michelle Wie / Danielle Gang (7.46am)

Danielle Kang

Day 1 MVP

There are strong cases to be made for Lizette Salas, Angel Yin and Georgia Hall but Danielle Kang gets the nod. The feisty KPMG Women’s PGA champion is one of three rookies on US captain Juli Inkster’s team but played with the fearlessness and abandon of a veteran. She laid down a marker in the morning foursomes by getting the crowd to cheer over her opening tee shot – a la Bubba Watson in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah – and did likewise in the afternoon. She’s a born entertainer, a formidable competitor and, unsurprisingly for a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, has seemingly endless reserves of fighting spirit. Two wins out of two. Not a bad first day on this stage.

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