Anna Nordqvist's super-shot gives Europe the edge in Solheim Cup


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The Independent Online

Europe's lead in the Solheim Cup looked as if it might disappear but remarkably they carried a one-point advantage into the afternoon fourballs. They owed their slender lead to a hole-in-one by Anna Nordqvist and a half-point that came from out of nowhere.

The Sweden crashed a seven-iron on the 175-yard 17th into the pin, then into the hole, to give Europe their only win in yesterday morning's foursomes here in Parker, Colorado. It was the highlight of a topsy-turvy stretch of golf on the back nine that ended with Europe holding a 6½-5½ lead over the United States.

"It was just an unbelievable shot," Nordqvist said after she and Caroline Hedwall beat Jessica Korda and Morgan Pressel 2 and 1. "It was the right shot at the right time."

Pressel, who had watched her dreams of a US Open title disappear in 2005 when Birdie Kim holed out from a greenside bunker up the road at Cherry Hills, saw another one slip away cruelly in Colorado. "Are you kidding me?" she said on the tee box as she watched Nordqvist's shot go in.

The Americans were feeling the same way in the day's third match after letting Europe sneak another half-point.

Brittany Lincicome missed a short putt on hole 17 that would have clinched a win for the Americans against Caroline Masson and Catriona Matthew. Moving to the 18th, Matthew holed a six-footer for birdie to pull into a tie with Lincicome and Lizette Salas, who had led since the second hole but couldn't close it out.

"I feel like I was not putting good," Lincicome said. "We had so many chances and Lizette played so good today, and just a couple of five-footers that needed to go in just didn't."

But there were reasons for the home crowd to be cheerful. Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie teamed up for a 2-and-1 victory over Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari. The victory improved Wie to 5-0-1 when she plays in the Solheim Cup as a captain's pick. The Americans were two down at the turn but went one up over the next three holes, highlighted by a 30-foot birdie putt that dropped for Lang on the 10th.

The Americans picked up another point when Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer beat Azahara Munoz and Karin Icher one up in the day's most tumultuous match.

The Europeans won four straight holes to go from four down to all square heading into the 15th. They fell behind on the next hole, then drew level again on the 17th. Europe appeared to have the advantage on the last when Lewis smothered her approach shot into the brush and trees left of the green.

But Icher, playing out of a bunker about 50 yards in front of the green, thinned a shot that got stuck in a yucca plant. All Creamer needed was to chip the ball back in the vicinity of the green and the Europeans, who had taken a drop, then hit a mediocre shot short of the green and conceded the match.

The US captain, Meg Mallon, was hoping the two late-morning victories would help the United States pick up steam in the afternoon.

"It was very nerve-racking, an unbelievable turn of events," Mallon said. "Watching a ball go in the hole like that, then to watch some of the other matches finish the way they did, was a great momentum turn for the US."