Europe and America shared the spoils after the opening Solheim Cup foursomes at St Leon-Rot.
The two teams go into the afternoon fourballs level at 2-2 after a riveting series in which the momentum swung first one way and then the other.
Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer got the Americans off to a perfect start when they beat Anna Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen by 3 & 2 in the first match on the course.
The Scandinavian duo opened with a win in the top match two years ago in Colorado but they fell behind when Pettersen missed the green to the left on the first and that seemed to set the tone for the round. They got a hole back with a par on the fourth but then lost the seventh to a birdie and the ninth to a par before finding themselves four down when Pressel and Creamer also birdied the 11th and the 13th. The Europeans rallied briefly when Pettersen birdied from 15-feet on the 14th but two holes later the Americans completed the job after getting up-and-down from off the back of the green.
“Being partners with Morgan makes me feel so comfortable out here,” said Creamer.” This is just so exciting. We played great. We had a couple little problems here and there but I’m so proud of us. We had one job to do and that was to go out and lead us off strong. I’m glad we did that.” Europe put their first point on the board courtesy of a fine performance from English duo Charley Hull and Melissa Reid.
The Europeans won the first hole of their match with a par against Americans Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome and never trailed thereafter. They were pegged back to all square when the Americans birdied the fifth but went ahead again with a birdie of their own on the seventh. The visitors won the 13th with a birdie but a par on the 14th edged Hull and Reid in front again and they sealed a 2 & 1 victory with a birdie on the 17th hole.
“Brittany and Michelle are fantastic golfers, fantastic players so we knew that it was going to be difficult,” said Reid. “But our aim today was to give ourselves a birdie chance on every hole. We like this partnership in foursomes. I wanted me and Charley. This is the partnership that we wanted and we feel very comfortable together. It’s nice to get the first point on the board.” Dames Laura Davies has played on 12 Solheim Cup teams so she knows a good match player when she sees one and so she was not surprised when veteran Scot Catriona Matthew won the final foursome in partnership with German Sandra Gal.
“Beanie (Matthew) is one of the best match players ever,” said Davies while commentating on Sky Sports. “She never gets rattled and never gets excited either. She just gets on with the job.”
Matthew also got all the support she needed from partner, Sandra Gal who played some superb golf in front of her home fans. The Scot and the German lost the first hole to opponents Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas but won the third and the sixth before losing the ninth to a par. The Europeans then surged to three up with birdies on the 10th and 11th and a par on the 14th, lost one hole when Lewis and Salas birdied the 15th, but sealed a 3 & 2 win when Gal holed out for another birdie on the very next hole.
“It was quite a morning out there,” said Gal. “We fed off the crowds really, really nicely. They were so into it and so supportive. It was a pleasure playing with Catriona. She’s so experienced and so laid back. We just really felt like one person playing out there, which is what it’s all about in foursomes.”
Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson ensured the Americans went into lunch at 2-2 but not until they withstood a late rally from Karine Icher and Azarara Munoz.
Icher and Munoz had looked dead and buried when they went four down to Kerr and Thompson after six holes but three consecutive birdies from the 13th saw them get back to just one hole in arrears before the Americans rallied to secure a 2 & 1 victory with a birdie on the 17th hole.
The draw for the afternoon fourballs was published at mid-day and it resulted in all 24 players getting at least one game on the opening day.
The top game features a re-match between Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall and Pressel and Creamer. American rookie, Alison Lee, had been suffering from a stomach bug in the 48 hours leading up to the match but she recovered in time to be slotted in alongside Angela Stanford for the second match against Hull and Gwladys Nocera. Hull’s morning partner, Reid teams up with Carlota Ciganda in the third game against Kerr and Thompson while the last game on the course pits the all-German pairing of Gal and Caroline Masson against Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang.
Friday Foursomes Results: (Europe first)
Anna Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen lost to Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer 3 and 2
Charley Hull and Melissa Reid beat Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome 2 and 1
Karine Icher and Azahara Munoz lost to Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson 2 and 1.
Sandra Gal and Catriona Matthew beat Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas 3 and 2.
Europe 2 USA 2
Fourball Pairings: (Europe first)
Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall v Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer
Charley Hull v Gwladys Nocera and Angela Stanford
Melissa Reid and Carlota Ciganda v Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson
Caroline Masson and Sandra Gal v Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang