USA wins Solheim Cup after controversy

An act of poor sportsmanship turns the tides as Team USA completes comeback

Suzann Pettersen tries to justify that "not given" putt to European captain Carin Koch
Suzann Pettersen tries to justify that "not given" putt to European captain Carin Koch
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A controversial incident in the unfinished fourballs galvanised Team USA into a remarkable singles comeback that saw them regain the Solheim Cup.

Team USA completed a remarkable comeback to win the 14th Solheim Cup at St Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany. The visitors overturned a four-point deficit heading into the singles to triumph over Europe by 14.5 points to 13.5.

The final day in Germany began with controversy as Saturday’s unfinished fourballs were played to a conclusion. On the 17th green in the match between Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome of the USA and Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull of Europe, Lee missed a birdie putt for a win. It went 18 inches or so past the cup and Lee picked up as Hull had begun to walk away. But Pettersen then claimed they hadn’t given Lee the putt for a half. A rules official intervened and the hole, and so the match, was handed to the Europeans. The episode left both Lee and Hull in tears and caused distinct ill feeling.

UPDATE: Suzann Pettersen apology

“I’m disgusted,” said Dame Laura Davies quite bluntly on Sky Sports.

The USA channeled their frustration at the European display of poor sportsmanship and came out firing in the singles. They trailed by four points at the start of the final session but they quickly gained the momentum as the scoreboard turned red.

The first match went right down to the wire and Carlota Ciganda had a chance to claim the opening point for Europe when Lexi Thompson failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker. But she three putted from the front of the green and the game ended in a half.

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Catriona Matthew lost out on the final hole against Morgan Pressel but then Karine Icher and Mel Reid gave the home fans cause for optimism as they picked up points against Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang.

Alison Lee made up for the disappointment of what happened in the fourballs with a fine 3&1 win over Gwladys Nocera, then Anna Nordqvist produced a fine performance to win against Stacey Lewis. That got Europe to 13.5 points, in need of just half a point more to retain the Cup. They couldn’t get it.

Caroline Masson had a chance on the final green. One down to Gerina Piller, she had a putt for a win and a key half. She missed and then Piller holed an excellent putt to secure another point for the USA. It proved a crucial blow.

Michelle Wie saw of Caroline Hedwall by 6&4 and Christie Kerr beat Charley Hull by 3&2. Azahara Munoz lost out to Lizette Salas and Suzann Pettersen was unable to redeem herself for her fourball blunder, as she was beaten by Angela Stanford.

When Sandra Gal fell to Paula Creamer, the deal was done. Team USA had won and team Europe were left to wonder how it all slipped away when things had been looking so good at the end of the second day.

Many will think the answer to that question could be found on the 17th green early on Sunday morning, when one petulant act of poor sportsmanship completely shifted momentum in favour of the USA – the European players went into the singles with a bitter taste while the Americans were spurred into action.

“After this morning they were all fired up,” said US captain Juli Inkster. “The girls were awesome, everybody did their job.”

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?