Europe’s Catrin Nilsmark was the happier of the Solheim Cup Captains after her team emerged with a 5 to 3 lead after the opening day at crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana.
The visiting side staged a fighting comeback to win the foursomes 3 to 1 and then shared the fourballs 2 all.
“Any time you are in front is a great day,” said Nilsmark, aiming to repeat the win from Sweden two years ago and lead Europe to a first win on US soil.
“It was a fantastic team effort, but even when we were down in three of the foursomes I knew that anything can happen on the back nine over the tough, finishing holes.”
World No.1 Annika Sorenstam, who joined Laura Davies and Suzann Pettersen as Europeans to win both matches, described it as “a very exciting day and I’m very proud of our team. We all kept grinding and grinding and it worked out great.”
Davies was one of the most inspired European performers, clinching a 2 and 1 foursomes win with Mari Hjorth and then making six birdies in the 15 holes that she and Pettersen required for a 4 and 3 win over Juli Inkster and Paula Creamer.
“It looked pretty ugly for us at one stage in the morning, but to win that series 3 to 1 was just great,” said the huge hitting Briton.
“Even after all those years, I feel under tremendous pressure playing in the Solheim, but I have been there before and that really helps. Today I just played really well and made a load of putts.”
US Captain Nancy Lopez admitted: “The morning was very tough for us. Michele Redman and Laura Diaz (who were four up with six to play before login on the final green to Sorenstam and Pettersen) could have won easily.
“But sometimes you relax when you have a big lead. But Europe played good golf and Laura Davies is playing great. It’s hard when you run into a steamroller.”
In tomorrow’s foursomes, Nilsmark has sent out the two French rookies, Ludivine Kreutz and Gwladys Nocera, at the head of the order.
“I out them together because they get on so well and I think they have a great chance.”
By coincidence, they have been drawn alongside a pair of US rookies, Natalie Gulbis and Christina Kim.
Foursomes draw (US names first): Christina Kim and Natalie Gulbis v. Gwladys Nocera and Ludivine Kreutz
Paula Creamer and Juli Inkster v. Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth
Laura Diaz and Wendy Ward v. Sophie Gustafson and Carin Koch
Cristie Kerr and Pat Hurst v. Annika Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew