Both Captains were in confident mood as the Solheim Cup reached an exciting climax at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana. After two days of fierce competition, nothing could split the teams and the result now hinges on the final day’s 12 singles.
With the score tied 8-all, European skipper Catrin Nilsmark and world No.1 Annika Sorenstam were in buoyant mood and maintained that Europe can still pull off a first victory on US soil.
Europe, who had led 5-3 after the opening day, need to win six points in the final day’s dozen singles to retain the Cup, with America requiring 6.5 to regain it.
“I’m very happy with the position,” said Nilsmark, who led the side to a record 17.5-10.5 victory in Sweden two years ago. “I think this is the best team Europe has ever had and we have a great opportunity to make history tomorrow.”
Sorenstam, with three wins from her four matches, added: “This is what we all hoped for, a chance to win. We have all won tournaments and now there is an opportunity to win the Cup.
“It is going to be hard because the US is a very strong and solid team. But we have the chance to do achieve something that has never been done before and that is a great motivator.”
In the singles, Sophie Gustafson will lead off Europe against Juli Inkster, Laura Davies is at No.2 versus teenager Paula Creamer, while Sorenstam meets veteran Beth Daniel at No.6,
One of the most intriguing ties is a match up between the two pregnant players – Iben Tinning and Laura Diaz – at No.4.
Nearer the end of the order, rookie Gwladys Nocera faces American No.1 Cristie Kerr at No.10, another newcomer, Karen Stupples, is up against two-time US Open Champion Meg Mallon at No.11 and Suzann Pettersen meets Rosie Jones in the final tie.
“I’ve put some experienced players out first and I am sure we will do well,” explained Nilsmark. “I want them to go out tomorrow and do their best. They have nothing to lose.
“I am confident in everyone in my side. The rookies have played very well, and Suzann is at the end because she just thrives on the pressure.”
US Captain Nancy Lopez was equally ebullient. “I’m very happy with being level at this stage,” she said. “We were two points behind overnight and my players held their heads high.
“I have the players that can go out there tomorrow and, hopefully, bring back the Cup.”
Singles draw (US first): Juli Inkster v Sophie Gustafson; Paula Creamer v Laura Davies; Pat Hurst v Trish Johnson; Laura Diaz v Iben Tinning; Christina Kim v Ludivine Kreutz, Beth Daniel v Annika Sorenstam; Natalie Gulbis v Maria Hjorth; Wendy Ward v Catriona Matthew; Michele Redman v Carin Koch; Cristie Kerr v Gwladys Nocera; Meg Mallon v Karen Stupples; Rosie Jones v Suzann Pettersen