Rookie Moodie leads Europe's flying start - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Rookie Moodie leads Europe's flying start

One of the most entertaining aspects of matchplay is its fluctuating fortune, a point perfectly illustrated here yesterday during an enthralling opening day's play in the sixth Solheim Cup.

One of the most entertaining aspects of matchplay is its fluctuating fortune, a point perfectly illustrated here yesterday during an enthralling opening day's play in the sixth Solheim Cup.

Once the dust, or more correctly, the mud had settled on the sodden Bonnie Banks, Europe had manufactured a three point lead to take into today's six fourball matches, but the overall outcome was uncertain until the final putt of the last tie on the 18th green.

The home side gave themselves the perfect start in their quest to halt America's bid for a fourth successive victory, winning all four of the morning foursomes ties to record a session whitewash for the first time in the event's history.

However, at one stage in the afternoon's four foursomes, it looked possible the visitors could also sweep the board before some courageous European golf towards the end of play.

With two matches lost, Trish Johnson and Sophie Gustafson birdied three of the last four holes to halve their contest with Juli Inkster and Sherri Steinhauer before the final act in the drama was provided by Scotland's Janice Moodie and Sweden's Annika Sorenstam.

Having won on the last green in the morning against Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel, the European duo repeated the feat in the afternoon, recovering from shedding a three hole lead from the 11th to the 13th in the process.

All square coming down the last, Mallon and Daniel could do no better than bogey five after the latter overshot the green, leaving Moodie the task of ensuring the winning par four. She performed it admirably, rolling her 20-foot putt down to hole side.

"As I said at the beginning of the week I picked match players," said the European captain Dale Reid. "I believed in them and I think they've gone out and believed in themselves. They know exactly what they're doing out there."

The fortunes of the European side were mirrored perfectly by their most experienced pairing of Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas who won handsomely in the morning before being trounced 6 and 5 by Becky Iverson and Rosie Jones in the afternoon.

In their first outing the English duo proved too strong for Inkster and an out-of-touch Dottie Pepper, whose recurring back injury hampered her swing and tempered her enthusiasm.

In running out 4 & 3 winners, Davies also stepped ahead of Pepper in the all-time points-scoring table with 13 1/ 2 to her name, but the victory was not without incident, Davies and Nicholas disagreeing over tactics on the sixth hole.

After driving into a fairway bunker, Davies suggested her partner attempt to find the green with her escape, but Nicholas disagreed. It led to a frosty silence between the pair until a winning birdie three at the ninth saw the smiles return.

"It was my stupidity, just reacting to something that was nothing to do with me," said Davies. "Ali never tries to hit my shots so I shouldn't try to hit hers - I should have minded my own business."

Within minutes of the first point on the board the European lead was 3-0, Johnson and Gustafson beating Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst 3 & 2 before the Swedes Catrin Nilsmark and Carin Koch dealt with Brandie Burton and Iverson 2 & 1.

It left the honour of recording the whitewash to the rookie Moodie and the world No 2 Sorenstam. After untidily halving the short 17th in double bogey five, Sorenstam regained her composure with a telling approach shot to within 10 feet of the flag at the closing hole, the resulting half good enough to furnish a one hole win.

If it felt good for them the first time round, five hours later it felt even better.

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