Europe lose the plot to let Creamer inspire great American fightback

 

Rarely has a 4 - 3 scoreline to the underdog felt so anti-climactic. Despite holding the lead over the mighty Americans after the first day of the Solheim Cup, Alison Nicholas found herself in the unusual position of having to ensure her European team's spirits remained high last night.

In all truth, the home team should have built a commanding lead at Killeen Castle, Co Meath. The morning foursomes were tied 2-2, when Europe should have edged clear and for most of the afternoon fourballs the scoreboard was covered in blue. But the visitors rallied and showed the composure which has helped them win the last three Solheims.

With an hour of play left Europe were up in all four games; when the final putt dropped the US had only lost two of them. Nobody suffered in this US fightback as much as the great hope of British women's golf. Poor Melissa Reid. In the opening session, the 24-year-old and her countrywoman Karen Stupples were one-up with two to play against Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome – and lost. And in the afternoon this grim fate repeated herself as Reid and Laura Davies lost the last two holes to Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

In fairness, there was little the English pair could do in the latter case as Creamer and Pressel both holed long putts on the 17th and 18th respectively. Reid had the chance to gain the half on the final green, but her 12-footer agonisingly lipped out. The anguish on her face said it all. "From blue to oblivion," as Mickey Walker, the former Europe captain, put it.

Christina Kim gave the resurrection its vocal presence. "Come on!" bellowed the ultra-passionate American, punching her fist as she left the 16th green. Kim and the rookie Ryann O'Toole had been two-down with three to play against Sandra Gal and Scotland's Catriona Matthew. But Kim's birdie gave O'Toole the impetus to birdie the 17th and in the event Matthew and Gal were relieved to escape with the half.

As the darkness dropped, there was still one game left out on the course. And important it might prove. Suzann Pettersen, the world No 2, and her Swedish compatriot Anna Nordqvist battled hard to secure their two-hole victory. That ensured Europe would go into this morning's foursomes with the lead. That was crucial. Goodness knows how deflated they would have been if they could only boast parity.

Meanwhile, at the Austrian Open in Tulln, Tom Lewis's second day as a professional was far more enjoyable than his first. The 20-year-old from Welwyn Garden City, who shot to fame in July when his 65 set a new low mark for an amateur at the Open, put a mediocre 74 behind him to post a two-under par 70. At level par, Lewis comfortably made the cut and will set his sights on a big cheque in his quest to win the £200,000 he needs by the end of the season to earn his Tour card. The lead is held by a group on seven-under, including the Englishman Robert Coles.

At the Tour Championship at East Lake, Atlanta, Australian Adam Scott birdied the last two holes for a second consecutive day to break one stroke clear of a tightly bunched leaderboard. Scott calmly rolled in putts from seven and 10 feet respectively at the 17th and the last to cap a sparkling five-under-par 65.

South Korean K J Choi was alone in second after a 65 while Australian Jason Day (67) and British world No 1 Luke Donald (68) were a further stroke back at six under. First-round leader Keegan Bradley hit a disappointing 71 while Justin Rose produced a 75.

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