It was advantage Europe after the opening foursomes session of the Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club. A 3-1 scoreline and Captain Liselotte Neumann could hardly have been happier.
It is the first time since 2005 that Europe has led after the first session – and it keeps the historic first win on US soil very much in sight.
In the top match, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall – dubbed the Swedish Vikings by Neumann –inflicted a 4 and 2 defeat on Stacy Lewis and rookie Lizette Salas.
“We played solid and had so much fun out there,” said Nordqvist. “We just really enjoying playing together.”
In the second match, Suzann Pettersen took rookie Beatriz Recari under her wing and they sealed a 2 and 1 triumph over Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford.
Recari was ecstatic. “This is a day I will never forget,” said the Spaniard. “It was great to play with Suzann, she really calmed me down and she putted exceptionally well.”
Pettersen, who has long been a European mascot in the Solheim, was full of praise for her new partner. “I wanted to play with Beatriz because I knew she really wanted it. She would never give up.”
Perhaps the most surprising away win was in the bottom match for Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher over two of the US most experienced and passionate twosome, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr.
Creamer, the world No.11, and world No.12 Kerr are a tried and tested partnership with two wins and half from three Solheim foursomes outings. But they couldn’t cope with the European attack around the turn.
Munoz and Icher, making her second Solheim 11 years after her first, birdied the eighth, ninth and tenth – won all three – and went on to claim a point that was a real kick in the teeth for Mag Mallon’s USA side.
Munoz said: “It feels amazing. It’s always nerve wracking to get on the first tee. But we played well from the beginning and we had an amazing stretch on 8, 9 and 10 making bombs. So that was huge for us. And then after that we just kept plugging along and we just did our job.”
“They made three real bombers at eight, nine and ten and it was just unfortunate,” said a downhearted Kerr, while Creamer was left out of the afternoon fourballs.
The only loss for Europe was in the third match with the all-British pairing of Catriona Matthew and rookie Jodi Ewart-Shadoff never quite finding top gear against Jessica Korda and Morgan Pressel. They lost 3 and 2.
Laura Davies, missing from team Europe for the first time in the event’s history, is working as a TV commentator and the English favourite admitted that even she was surprised by the result of the Icher and Munoz match.
“The last pairing was a surprise to me but Liselotte must have seen something and they have worked out great together,” said the former world No.1. “That’s a real bonus for the Europeans.”
Friday Foursomes Results: (Europe first)
Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall beat Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas 4 and 2.
Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari beat Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford 2 and 1
Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff lost to Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda 3 and 2
Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher beat Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer 2 and 1
Europe 3 USA 1
Fourball Pairings: (Europe first)
Suzann Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda v Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson
Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson v Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller
Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas v Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang
Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull v Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie