April 14, 2024

ANDALUCIA, Spain — Given what transpired on the second day of the 18th Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin on Saturday, one might guess there would be plenty of soul-searching in the American team’s locker room.

After winning Friday’s opening foursomes (alternate shot) session 4-0 for the first time in the event, the Americans have now dropped eight of the past 12 points. The Solheim Cup is tied 8-8 and the winner will be decided when 12 head-to-head singles matches are played on Sunday.

But when U.S. team Stacy Lewis and players Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin met the media following a deflating day, they didn’t seem too anxious or disappointed.

Yin wore sunglasses during the interview and quoted Colorado football coach Deion Sanders about “keeping receipts.”

“We’re in a good spot,” Lewis said. “We certainly would have liked to have won a few more points today, but I’m not upset about our position. I thought the girls played really good today. I think we’re in a good spot for tomorrow.”

The European team, which has won the past two Solheim Cups, needs six points to retain the trophy. The U.S. squad needs 6½ points to take it back. It is the fifth time under the current format that the score is tied 8-8 heading into singles matches. The Americans and Europeans each won twice in the previous four instances since 2002.

The U.S. has never lost the Solheim Cup three times in a row.

“I’m out of words, but we have to remember, we’re not there,” European team captain Suzann Pettersen said. “There’s still 12 points up for grabs tomorrow, but we made quite a comeback. Now we’re tied, and we just put it in fifth gear and keep going.”

The Europeans went 3-1 in Saturday afternoon’s four-ball (best ball) matches. They tied the score at 8-8 with a 2 and 1 victory from Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Sweden’s Linn Grant over Danielle Kang and Lilia Vu, a two-time major champion this season.

No one on the course Saturday was hotter than Grant, who carded birdies on each of her first six holes. Somehow, Kang and Vu stayed within striking distance. Kang tied the match with a long birdie putt on the par-3 10th. After the Europeans went back up 2, Vu hit a brilliant approach shot to about 2 feet on the 13th to win the hole. But Ciganda, the crowd favorite, answered with another birdie on the 16th.

After the American team dropped the first two four-ball matches, Knight and Yin stopped the bleeding with a 2-up win over Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall. The U.S. teammates needed everything in their bags to stay close early.

Hedwall, who is ranked 121st in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, was a surprising captain’s pick. She didn’t play in each of the first three sessions. She had five birdies on the first eight holes Saturday to post a 2-up lead. Then Knight and Yin won three straight holes, Nos. 11 to 13, to go 1 up. The Americans won the 18th hole to close out the match and give the U.S. team an 8-7 lead.

“In situations like this, at least we got one point up there,” Yin said. “So tomorrow, it’s going to be a grind, but I think we’re going to do great.”

The European team had pulled to within one point of the Americans (7-6) after England’s Charley Hull and Ireland’s Leona Maguire made easy work of Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing with a 4 and 3 victory in the first match of the afternoon. The U.S. duo was 4 behind after nine holes and couldn’t get closer than 3 down the rest of the way. Maguire had seven birdies with no bogeys in 15 holes with usual match-play concessions.

Maguire said Pettersen’s instructions before the session were simple: Go get a point.

“Nelly and Ally are great players,” Maguire said. “We knew that from the last time around. I have huge respect for both of them, so we knew we had to bring our A games this afternoon. So, yeah, just played really solid and didn’t really give them a chance to fight back at all.”

The European squad tied the U.S. 7-7 on a 2 and 1 victory from Denmark’s Emily K. Pedersen and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom over Rose Zhang and Andrea Lee. The European duo went 1 up with a birdie on the par-4 seventh and held that advantage for the next seven holes. On No. 9, Zhang made a long birdie putt from the fringe of the green but Pedersen answered. On No. 13, Lee made a 12-footer for birdie but Sagstrom responded with another one.

“I think sometimes you just need a little bit of talking, so then you know where to go and you get back to square one and then you start over, and that’s what we did,” Pedersen said. “I’m so proud of everyone on the team for picking ourselves up, picking each other up, and at no stage has there been like a down mood. There’s been no disbelief from the team, even after the first matches. So yeah, just plodding away.”

The teams split four foursomes matches Saturday morning, leaving the U.S. with a 7-5 lead.

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