The United States extended their lead to five points at the end of day two of the 15th Solheim Cup and will need 3 ½ points from the 12 singles matches to retain the trophy at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa, while Europe needs nine points.
The United States needs 14 points to retain the Cup, while Europe require 14 ½ to win outright.
European duo Anna Nordqvist and Jodi Ewart Shadoff defeated Lizette Salas and Angel Yin 4&2 in the second afternoon four-ball match, but the United States took the other three matches and Europe will now need to pull off the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history.
That is exactly what the United States did two years ago in Germany when they overcame a four-point deficit and pulled off the largest comeback to date.
This is only the third time that the United States has led going into the singles matches and they won on both of the previous two occasions, in 1990 and 1998.
However, European Captain Annika Sorenstam told the media that it was still “Mission Possible.”
At the 2012 Ryder Cup, named the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ by the media, the European team needed eight-and-a-half points for the greatest comeback in history but Sorenstam went further.
“There have been a lot of comebacks in sports in general. Let’s not just focus on just golf. Sports, and life in general. March 16, 2001, before I teed off, nobody had shot 59. I’m still the only one that’s done that. I know it’s possible. There are a lot of things I can bring up that’s possible. And history can be made. So, like I said, hope is the last thing that’s going to leave us and we’re determined. We didn’t fly these miles to not put up a fight. The fight is not over yet.”
Earlier in the morning, the teams shared the foursomes, with two points each. Charley Hull rested for the whole of Saturday’s play with a wrist injury, while Anna Nordqvist, who has glandular fever, played 36 holes and is so far undefeated in the contest, with three wins from three matches and a 2017 record of 100 per cent.
The afternoon’s four-ball matches featured four tight battles. Brittany Lang and Brittany Linciome combined to shoot 12 under in their 2-up win over Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid, who hung right in with the Americans with a 10-under round of their own only to be beaten by a birdie on the 18th green.
In the second match of the afternoon, Nordqvist holed a 4-footer for birdie at No. 2 to take the lead and the Europeans held the advantage from there.
Salas brought the huge crowd to their feet with a 50-foot birdie putt from the fringe on No. 5. But Nordqvist birdied No. 8 to take the Europeans 2 up, and Ewart Shadoff contributed a hole-winning birdie at No. 14 to put them three clear of Salas and Yin. Salas nearly holed out for eagle at No. 15, but the hole was halved with short birdies, and Ewart Shadoff won the match with a birdie at the 17th.
“There were a lot of birdies out there, not just between me and Anna, but Lizette and Angel played great, too,” said Ewart Shadoff. “It was a lot of fun playing with Anna. We have very similar games. We were there for each other when we needed each other.”
In the third match, Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst defeated Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom, 2 and 1.
“You have to make birdies in match play,” said Creamer. “And this golf course, it’s good to be aggressive. But you can’t be overly aggressive, just because of where some of the pin placements are. But when your partner’s playing well, it makes you feel good.”
The fourth match of the afternoon was another close affair, but ultimately Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson defeated Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew 4&2.
The American duo started strong with victories on two of the first three holes before the Europeans got one back with an eagle from Hall at No. 4.
The Americans pushed their advantage back to two with a Thompson birdie on No. 6, a lead they held until the 10th, when Matthew snuck a birdie in on the left side. Thompson quickly answered with a birdie of her own on No. 11 to extend the lead.
After an extraordinary stretch saw both sides matching clutch putts from holes 11-13, Team USA went dormie when Kerr holed out a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 15th, sending the crowds into a frenzy. When Matthew and Hall narrowly missed birdie putts on the 16th, the duo conceded a birdie to Thompson to wrap up the match.
“We just knew they were going to play really tough and they did,” said Kerr. “They made a lot of birdies and they stuffed it in some holes that we said I had to make putts on top of them. Lexi had to make putts on top of them. And we really ham and egged it out well there. I think that’s why we make such a good team because we’re there for each other.”
United States Team Captain Juli Inkster said: “I just love where my players’ heads are at right now. They know – they haven’t said one thing in the locker room. They just were just all putting the team, the lineup together and asking everybody where they would like to fall, where they felt comfortable.
“So we’ve got our work cut out for us, and I know Annika’s team will not quit, so we’ll be ready for the task.”
The five-point difference ties the largest margin going into the last day with 1998 and 2000, when the USA and Europe led respectively before going on to achieve victory.
The singles times for Sunday have been brought forward two hours due to the threat of storms in the afternoon and the first match tees off at 9.31am CT.
Day 2 Results and Pairings
2017 SOLHEIM CUP
Day One – Friday 18th August
Morning Foursomes Results
8.10am Melissa Reid and Charley Hull (EUR) halved with Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA)
8.22am Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas (USA) defeated Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson (EUR) 1up
8.34am Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist (EUR) defeated Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) 3&1
8.46am Karine Icher and Catriona Matthew (EUR) defeated Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (USA) 1 up
Result Europe 2 ½ USA 1 ½
Afternoon Four Ball Results
1:20 p.m. –Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang (USA) defeated Madelene Sagstrom and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR) 3&1
1:35 p.m. – Angel Yin and Lizette Salas (USA) defeated Carlota Ciganda and Emily Pedersen (EUR) 6&5
1:50 p.m. – Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang (USA) defeated Florentyna Parker and Caroline Masson (EUR) 3&2
2:05 p.m. – Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (USA) defeated Charley Hull and Georgia Hall (EUR) 2&1
Result Europe 0 USA 4
Cumulative Result Europe 2 ½ USA 5 ½
Saturday Foursomes Results:
7.10am Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) defeated Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson (EUR) 5&3
7.22am Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) defeated Mel Reid and Emily Kristine Pedersen (EUR) 5&3
7.34am Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall (EUR) defeated Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller (USA) 2&1
7.46am Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher (EUR) defeated Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang (USA) 2&1
Result Europe 2 USA 2
Cumulative Result Europe 4 ½ USA 7 ½
Saturday Four Ball Results:
12.10 pm Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome (USA) defeated Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda (EUR) 2 up
12.25 pm Anna Nordqvist and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR) defeated Lizette Salas and Angel Yin (USA) 4&2
12:40 pm Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst (USA) defeated Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom (EUR) 2&1
12:55 pm Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (USA) defeated Catriona Matthew and Georgia Hall (EUR) 4&2
Result: Europe 1 USA 3
Cumulative Result Europe 5 ½ USA 10 ½
Sunday Singles Pairings:
9:31 a.m. – Anna Nordqvist (EUR) v. Lexi Thompson (USA)
9:42 a.m. – Georgia Hall (EUR) v. Paula Creamer (USA)
9:53 a.m. – Mel Reid (EUR) v. Cristie Kerr (USA)
10:04 a.m. – Catriona Matthew (EUR) v. Stacy Lewis (USA)
10:15 a.m. – Karine Icher (EUR) v. Angel Yin (USA)
10:26 a.m. – Caroline Masson (EUR) v. Michelle Wie (USA)
10:37 a.m. – Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR) v. Lizette Salas (USA)
10:48 a.m. – Charley Hull (EUR) v. Brittany Lang (USA)
10:59 a.m. – Carlota Ciganda (EUR) v. Brittany Lincicome (USA)
11:10 a.m. – Florentyna Parker (EUR) v. Gerina Piller (USA)
11:21 a.m. – Madelene Sagstrom (EUR) v. Austin Ernst (USA)
11:32 a.m. – Emily Pedersen (EUR) v. Danielle Kang (USA)