Europe headed into the Solheim Cup singles with a 10-6 lead over America and need four points to retain the trophy. America require eight and a half points to win for the first time since 2009.
Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr’s fourball against Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda had ended the previous evening with the Americans recording a 3 & 2 victory and the next morning the visitors won another point when Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller won by one hole against Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson.
The night before US captain Juli Inkster had stressed the importance of momentum.
“Our main focus in the morning is to try to finish these matches and get some momentum going into the singles,” she said.
Hedwall had a chance to break that momentum when she hit her approach into the 17th to seven feet but the heroine of Europe’s victory over USA two years ago failed to hole out and that meant when the next hole was halved in par the Americans’ deficit was down to just two points.
Europe needed something positive to happen and a few minutes later veteran Scot Catriona Matthew provided it. Matthew and her partner Karine Icher had started the day one up on Lizette Salas and Brittany Lang through 15 holes and the Scot quickly doubled the advantage when she birdied the 16th before Icher finished the job with a birdie of her own on the next hole.
Matthew and Icher had finished their match with three successive birdies and it took the overall score to 9-6 with just one fourball left on the course. That match featured Charley Hull and Suzann Pettersen against Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome and it also turned into a cliff hanger with a totally unexpected ending.
The Americans had started the morning with a one hole lead through 15 holes but Hull quickly brought the scores level with a seven foot birdie putt on the 16th. The major talking point occurred on the next hole when it appeared Alison Lee had picked her ball up before it had been conceded. Under Rule 2-4/3 the referee had no choice but to award the hole to the Europeans and they went on to consolidate victory on the final hole.
Lee talked about the incident before heading out for he singles match against Gwladys Nocera.
“Obviously, Charley and Suzann missed their birdie putts and we were all square. I knew I had a chance to go one up on them going into the last hole. I hit the putt and missed it but I had just under two feet, like a foot and a half coming back. And I looked at it and thought I heard it was good. I mean, they said they didn’t say it was, but I could have sworn I thought it was good. To me it looked good. I mean it was a really short, easy putt. And at the same time Charley was walking off the green and Suzann was already off the green, so there was no doubt in my mind that the putt was good. I didn’t even think twice about it. So I just picked it up.
“As soon as I was walking off, it felt like a movie, just looking at everyone staring at me. Oh, man. But, like I said, there was no doubt in my mind that I thought it was good. I thought I heard it. Charley was walking off. You can see that. And Suzann was off the green. Now, I know I have to double check. I guess it’s a lesson I’ve learned going into today’s (next) match. From now on, I will double check and look at them straight in the eye so I can confirm it.”
Later, European captain, Carin Koch, said: “We all feel bad for Alison. She made a mistake and it’s very unfortunate. We don’t want things like that to happen. She made a mistake in the Rules of Golf. We had a Rules meeting and we clearly stated that you have to concede a putt very clearly and she didn’t go with the Rule.
“The Rules are the Rules. You have to follow the Rules.
“I think everyone is fired up and playing great golf. The golf this morning was unbelievable. The girls are playing so well and everyone is fired up for this afternoon. It will showcase our sport and we’ll play some great golf.
“I think we are going to have 12 great matches.”