It lacked the wildly dramatic ending of 2019, but the result of the Solheim Cup in 2021 was the same – a European victory.
Team Europe won the biennial competition that pits the best female golfers from Europe and the United States against each other, 15-13.
The score, however, makes the competition seem a lot closer than it was.
Team Europe, led by AIG Women’s Open champion (and 7-time Solheim Cup team member) Anna Nordqvist raced out to a commanding lead. The European squad led 9-7 heading into the Monday singles match-ups and captured four of the first seven matches outright.
Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson halved their match, along with Austin Ernst and Nicole Koerstz Madsen.
Matilda Castren – who barely qualified for the team, relying on a late-season victory on the Ladies European Tour to even earn qualification privileges – rolled in a par-saving putt on the 18th hole in her match against American veteran Lizette Salas to earn the magical 14th point for Europe.
“It’s hard to put it into words right now,” said Castren. “I think I’m still shaking. I just knew I was looking at the board and I knew it was going to be an important putt, and I wanted to make it. Me and Mikey read it and we read it perfectly and it went in.”
The American side put up a late fight to get the score into respectable territory. World No.1 Nelly Korda was the only American point to come from the first seven matches, however, Brittany Altomare, Meghan Khang, 20-year-old rookie Yealimi Noh, and Korda’s elder sister Jessica all won their matches late in the day.
Emily Pedersen of Europe won the final match of the competition 1-up over Danielle Kang to put a bow on the European victory. Ironically enough, Pedersen’s boyfriend is Kang’s caddie.
“It’s always a bit strange, but at the end of the day we’re out there to do a job. I know it’s nothing personal, and he knows the same,” said Pedersen. “I want to win, and it’s just — I get to tease him a little bit more tonight.”
This year’s Solheim Cup was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the crowd at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio was decidedly pro-American, with barely any European supporters (including family) able to make the trip due to the continuing impact of the virus.
Suzann Pettersen, who captured the winning point for Europe at the last Solheim Cup in dramatic fashion (she rolled in the Cup-winning point and then retired immediately afterwards) said this was a huge moment for Team Europe – who had never retained the cup on American soil before.
“To come here under these circumstances with literally — we literally had 12 players and our helpers supporting the European team,” said Pettersen. “We come here with literally no support in the crowd, and we just win it outright. So proud of these girls.”
American Captain Pat Hurst admitted she was hoping to see some more “red” on the board early, which would have indicated an American comeback wave, but it was just not to be this week.
“They played hard, they played with heart, and that’s what we were asking for,” said Hurst.
However, the captain, even after the loss, said this week was massive for the women’s game in general.
“Both sides they’re awesome players. Women’s golf has — the level of women’s golf is just unbelievable now, and it’s just going to get better, and that’s what this is all about again,” said Hurst. “Solheim Cup is — it’s the best thing in the world. It’s fun, it’s the team play. It’s just — we love to do it every two years.”
The LPGA Tour is off this week before returning to action for the Cambia Portland Classic, an event Golf Town Athlete Brooke Henderson has won twice before.