TOLEDO, Ohio-Europe retained the Solheim Cup on Monday and only claimed its second victory on American soil when Matilda Castren closed Lizette Salas 1-up to give the visitors their 14th point, causing a somewhat muted celebration at the breezy Inverness .
Castren curls calmly into a 10-foot putt on the 18th to the front of Salas and gives Europe the consecutive cup victories for the second time in the 31-year history of the biennial showdown between the two rivals.
Two years after we needed a 7-foot putt from Suzann Pettersen to slip through the Americans at Gleneagles, this time was not so dramatically necessary.
The Europeans built up a 9-7 lead in the 12 singles matches over the weekend and quickly put pressure on Monday, eliminating any legitimate hope of a return by the hosts.
Leona Maguire, the first Irishman to appear in the Solheim Cup, made a brilliant 4-0-1 debut by scoring three birdies and an eagle on the top nine after Jennifer Kupcho’s 5-and-4 in the third game and To give Europe the first of the five points it needed.
Madelene Sagstrom followed by a 3-and-2 victory over Ally Ewing, and Celine Boutier dropped American rookie Mina Harigae 5-and-4 to push Europe’s total to 12. Anna Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson – which combined for 12 Solheim performances between them- completed the square in a tense match in which none of them led by more than one at any stage.
The Americans briefly made a push and turned the scoreboard into a red sea late in the afternoon, but the big shots the US needed to put pressure on the leaders materialized. Most fist pumps and roars were reserved for long parks that halved wells instead of winning them.
Austin Ernst saw an 8-foot downhill birdie that would have her match won against Nanna Koerstz Madsen, allowing Europe to escape by half a point to bring their team to 13th overall. Salas had a chance to end her game with Castren on just the 17th that pushed her 6-foot birdie past the hole.
When Salas failed to convert an uphill 20-foot birdie on the 18th and Castren recovered from a packed shot in the bunker to throw her paraputt in the heart of the cup, Europe claimed its fourth victory in the Solheim Cup in its past six meetings with the Americans.
Europe took the lead from start to finish, taking a 3-point lead after opening an alternate shot on Saturday morning and never giving up.
Not even a very biased crowd that included a two-time champion champion Bubba Watson (yes, really) the US can provide the energy needed to close the gap.
Still, US captain Pat Hurst, confident on his way to singles, said her ‘stacked’ team had enough talent and experience to overcome the backlog.
This has happened before. Eight times before Monday, Europe was in anticipation of singles. Only four times did the Europeans hold on to win.
Still, 33-year-old Mel Reid, a four-time veteran of the Solheim Cup, said on the eve of the opening matches that it was the best team Europe had ever brought to the event.
Over the course of three days, Reid and her 11 teammates played like that. The Briton won 2-0-1 at the weekend while playing alongside the seemingly unstoppable Maguire.
Reid’s spectacular 136-meter 8-yards on the 18th on Sunday in the final match earned a half-point and gave Europe momentum, it led to a victory that never doubted the second Nordqvist and Castren Ernst en Danielle Kang 1-up in the opening game Saturday morning.
Although outbursts were rare – 13 of the weekend’s 16 matches reached the 17th green – when things got tough, the Europeans rarely failed.