Golf: Europe establish a feat of learning: Tim Glover reports on the golf lesson that laid the foundation for Solheim Cup success

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LAURA DAVIES, Europe's slimline tonic, stood on the first tee of the first match in the second Solheim Cup on Friday and handed out 'high fives' to several of her team-mates. By the time Deb Richard arrived on the first tee in the eighth singles on Sunday the game, for the United States, was up.

Richard (pronounced Rish-ard), had a word with Ivor Robson, the starter with the microphone. 'I hope you're going to pronounce my name right today,' she said. The dollar millionairess put her ball on the tee. 'Ladies and gentlemen, representing the United States in match No 8,' Robson said, 'Deb Richard.' As in Cliff. No French connection. Richard turned to Robson and said: 'You're just pissable.'

This was one aspect of the Solheim Cup at Dalmahoy, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Any match in golf, be it male, female, amateur or professional, has a competitive edge and this was no different. The result, however, was. The United States, unbackable favourites with the bookmakers, lost the cup by 11 1/2 - 6 1/2 after taking possession in the inaugural contest in Florida two years ago by 11 1/2 -4 1/2 .

Some questionable American customs are fashionably copied in indecent haste, 'high fives' being one of them. What Europe's professionals have unquestionably learned in two short years is the great American will to win. The United States did not take such a staggering defeat lightly or, for that matter, particularly gracefully.

It happened in the Ryder Cup, it happened in the Walker Cup and it happened in the Curtis Cup. It was not meant to happen in the Solheim Cup. 'I think the Americans are in a state of shock,' Mickey Walker, Europe's captain, said. 'It is almost impossible to appreciate what has happened. We have beaten the best golfers in the world. We outplayed them, totally.' Walker's Cup.

It was certainly a victory for the have-nots against the haves. The US Tour plays for nearly dollars 21m ( pounds 12m), the abbreviated European version for pounds 1.26m. This season the schedule contained only 12 tournaments compared with 28 in 1988. 'The Solheim Cup could do to women's golf in Europe what the Ryder Cup did to the men's game,' Mark McCormack, who has a considerable interest in both, said at Dalmahoy on Sunday.

In the absence of television coverage, more than 8,000 people braved wretched weather on the final day and were rewarded with golf of the highest standard. The Europeans, led by Davies, who was the only player in the competition to win three matches out of three, were, in Walker's view, inspired. In the opening match of the singles, which the Americans thought they would win and which they lost 7-3, Brandie Burton was three under par when she was beaten 4 and 2 by Davies.

The crowd helped, of course, and so did Beth Daniel. In an American magazine she was quoted as saying that the Europeans had only two world-class players. Walker and her team used every word of the article as a psychological weapon. On the first day Daniel and Betsy King, who between them have won more than dollars 7m and have 54 tournament victories, were told to shut up by Alison Nicholas, Davies's partner. While Nicholas was playing a shot, Daniel was involved in a discussion with a rules official. Daniel wanted the ground between her ball and the flag to be cleared of water and when her request was denied, King remarked: 'No wonder this tour's a load of crap.'

Alice Miller, who had to stand in as captain of the US for Kathy Whitworth, referred to a 'bad ruling', the 'discourtesy' of the European team, a 'bad press', a 'dumb deal' from the format and slow greens, all of which contributed to a 'week of adversity' for the Americans. Miller wanted every member of her 10-strong team to play every day. Walker, who described some of Miller's comments as unsporting, said that she, too, would favour a fuller formula.

In a press conference on Sunday evening Juli Inkster said that relations between the teams was 'feisty'. She was about to elaborate when Daniel told her to be quiet. Walker said that, generally, the spirit was good but added: 'There are some things that happened that will never come out.' In the team rooms at Dalmahoy, the Americans drank beer, the Europeans champagne. Dottie Mochrie, the most successful player in America this year, broke down and cried.

The men have been shedding tears in the Ryder Cup for years. The difference is that it took the Europeans an age to get on par with the United States and make a genuine match of it. The European women, comparatively young and with a backbone of fiercely competitive Swedes, have taken two years to gain equality.


(Europe names first)

FRIDAY: FOURSOMES: L Davies and A Nicholas bt B King and B Daniel 1 hole; L Neumann and H Alfredsson bt P Bradley and D Mochrie 2 and 1; F Descampe and T Johnson lost to D Ammaccapane and M Mallon; D Reid and P Wright halved with P Sheehan and J Inkster. Score after first day: Europe 2 1/2 United States 1 1/2 .

SATURDAY: FOURBALLS: Davies and Nicholas bt Sheehan and Inkster 1 hole; Johnson and Descampe halved with B Burton and D Richard; Wright and Reid lost to Mallon and King 1 hole; Alfredsson and Neumann halved with Bradley and Mochrie. Fourballs result: Europe 2 United States 2. Score after second day: Europe 4 1/2 United States 3 1/2 .

SUNDAY: SINGLES: Davies bt Burton 4 and 2; Alfredsson bt Ammaccapane 4 and 3; Johnson bt Sheehan 2 and 1; Nicholas lost to Inkster 3 and 2; Descampe lost to Daniel 3 and 1; Wright bt Bradley 4 and 3; C Nilsmark bt Mallon 3 and 2; K Douglas lost to Richard 7 and 6; Neumann bt King 2 and 1; Reid bt Mochrie 3 and 2. Singles result: Europe 7 United States 3.

MATCH RESULT: Europe 11 1/2 United States 6 1/2 .