The United States swept the four morning foursome matches, but Europe rallied to go 2-0-2 in the afternoon fourballs in an exciting first day at the 18th Solheim Cup at Club de Golf Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain.
The Americans will take a 5-3 lead into Saturday, when four more foursomes matches will be played in the morning and four fourball matches in the afternoon, and the event will culminate with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
The team that won the opening session has gone on to win eight of the previous 11 Solheim Cups.
The team that reaches 14½ points will win, and if there is a tie, the Euros will retain possession of the Solheim Cup since they have won the last two editions of the event, not to mention four of the last six.
“I’m really proud of the way the entire team fought back in the afternoon,” said non-playing European captain Suzann Pettersen of Sweden, who sank the winning putt in the 2019 Solheim Cup.
“It’s not easy to stand on that tee in the afternoon knowing you’re down four after the first session. So I’ve got to say, hat’s off to all my players, the way they fought and the way they showed their character on this Friday afternoon. You get knocked down, you stand up, and you try it again, and that’s kind of what I told the girls and they did.”
The Europeans hit the three shots of the day in the afternoon.
Emily Kristine Pederson of Denmark made a hole in one on the 178-yard 12th hole as she and Maja Stark halved their match with Allisen Corpuz of USC and Jennifer Kupcho. It was the second ace in Solheim Cup history, as Anna Nordqvist of Sweden made the other in 2013.
Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland holed her third shot from 70 yards for a birdie on the 14th hole as she and Madeline Sagstrom of Sweden came from 2 down to halve their match with Megan Khang and Rose Zhang of Irvine and Stanford.
Then, Leona Maguire of Ireland (pictured) made a clutch chip-in from 25 yards for a birdie on the 18th hole that lifted her and Georgia Hall to a 1-up victory over Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley and UCLA.
In the final afternoon match, Carlota Ciganda of Spain collected six birdies as she and Linn Grant of Sweden defeated Angel Yin of Los Angeles and Ally Ewing, 4 and 2, by winning three of the last five holes.
“Obviously, the start this morning was somewhat, I think, unexpected,” non-playing U.S. Captain Stacy Lewis said. “But it was a great, great start. The level of golf this afternoon was really, really good. Just proud of how the girls fought and the number of matches that came down to 18 and, you know, half points are really, really important come Sunday. So those two halves this afternoon were really big for us.”
In the morning foursomes, Thompson and Khang won the first three holes of the opening match and never trailed in a 2-up victory over Stark and Grant; Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks and Pepperdine teamed with Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach and Stanford for a 1-up victory over Hall and Celine Boutier of France with a birdie by Lee on the 17th hole; Corpuz and Nelly Korda won three straight holes on the front nine and held on for a 1-up victory over Maguire and Nordqvist, and Ewing and Cheyenne Knight won six of the first nine holes and routed Pederson and Charley Hull of England, 5 and 4.
In Saturday morning’s foursome matches, Vu and Kupcho will meet Ciganda and Pedersen; Thompson and Khang will face Nordqvist and Maguire; Korda and Corpuz will take on Hall and Boutier, and Kang and Lee will play Stark and Grant.
The U.S. holds a 10-7 lead in the Solheim Cup series, but has not won on European soil since a 14½-13½ victory in 2015 at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, and their last victory anywhere against the Eoros was 16½-11½ at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2017.
For complete results, visit: https://www.lpga.com/tournaments/the-solheim-cup/leaderboard