USA leads PING Junior Solheim Cup

The United States of America will take a three point lead over Europe heading into the final day of the PING Junior Solheim Cup over the King’s course at Gleneagles.

The two sides shared the foursomes 3-3 but the visiting side won the fourballs 4 ½ – 1 ½ meaning they need 4 ½ points from the 12 singles on the final day to retain the trophy.

Scotland’s Hannah Darling and her English partner Annabell Fuller got the home team off to the best possible start in the morning foursomes when they put the first points on the board with a 4 & 3 victory over America’s Sadie Englemann and Lucy Li but the Americans evened things up when Michaela Morard and Rachel Heck beat Slovenia’s Pia Babnik and Italy’s Alessia Nobilio by one hole. 18-year-old Heck is best remembered on this side of the Atlantic for holing the winning putt for her country at last year’s Junior Ryder Cup in Paris.

English pair Lily May Humphreys and Mimi Rhodes edged the home team ahead again when they recorded a 4 & 3 victory over Amanda Sambach and Alexa Pano but the Americans levelled things up for a second time when Phoebe Brinker and Christine Wang beat Denmark’s Anne Normann and Amelia Leth-Nissen by the same scoreline.

With two foursomes matches left on the course the Americans took the lead for the first time when Briana Chacon and Brianna Navarrosa edged out France’s Lilas Pinthier and Germany’s Paula Schultz-Hanßen on the last green before the sides went into lunch tied at 3-3 when Italy’s Benedetta Moresco and France’s Lucie Malchirand secure a 4 & 3  victory over Zoe Antoinette Campos and Rose Zhang.

The Americans dominated the afternoon fourballs right from the start. Englemann and Heck were taken all the way to the 18th green before beating Darling and Fuller before Morard and Zhang claimed another point with a 3 & 1 win over Babnik and Nobilio.

Normann and Nissen stopped the rot with a 4 & 3 victory over Campos and Navarrosa and Pinthier and Schultz-Hanßen came from behind to halve with Pano and Brinker but Sambach and Chacon beat Humphreys and Rhodes 2 & 1 before Li and Wang completed the day in the gathering gloom with a 2 & 1 win over Moresco and Malchirand.

“The weather conditions were challenging. We had some blue sky for a while but then it went away and it became difficult for both sides,” said US Captain Mary Bea Porter-King.

“It has been a good day for us but there’s still a lot of golf to play with 12 singles matches. It can still go either way.  A cushion always helps but you don’t want them to sit back on their heels and think the job is done and that’s what I will be telling them tonight.

“I’ve got a text from Michelle Wie to read to them tonight so I hope that will inspire them,” she added.

“The Americans just played better than us. It’s that simple,” said European captain Mickey Walker. “We lost a couple of holes to bogeys and you can’t do that in better ball.

“There was some great golf this afternoon. I believe Pia (Babnik) and Alessia (Nobilio) were something like six under par but still lost which is pretty impressive in the conditions. But you know what match play is like. That’s what happens sometimes.

“We’ve got plenty of points to play for tomorrow and I really believe we can still win,” she added. “I think the girls will also believe that because every one of them is capable of winning their point no matter which American they are drawn against. It would be great to come from behind to win.”