Nightmare start for Europe as U.S. sweeps morning foursomes

Mark McGowan

Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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The European side face an uphill battle if they’re to remain in touch after losing all four of the opening foursomes matches in the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin.

Leona Maguire’s undefeated Cup record came to an end as she and Anna Nordqvist fell to Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz, but despite the blot on her Solheim Cup record, her reputation as a fearsome opponent will have suffered little damage as she, along with Celine Boutier, were the only real bright sparks on an otherwise extremely disappointing European showing.

None of the four European pairings were able to manage a birdie in the opening five holes which included two par-5s and a semi-drivable par-4, and from 4-0 down, a defeat in the afternoon fourballs will leave them a mountain to climb if they are to have any sort of realistic chance of retaining the cup or completing a historic three-in-a-row.

In the opening match, Swedish rookie duo of Linn Grant and Maja Stark showed signs of early nerves as they lost all three of the opening holes to Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang. A par on the sixth was enough to claw a hole back for the Europeans, and as the action began to heat up, the 10th was halved in birdie and another on the par-5 11th saw Grant and Stark draw within one.

Another birdie on 13 brought them back level, but the Americans got their noses in front again with a birdie on 15. When Grant faced a 25-footer for the fringe on 16, it looked like the match would go dormy, but the home crowd who were rather subdued in the wake of the early American dominance, erupted as the ball found the centre of the cup.

Sadly, it would prove futile as Grant’s approach to the par-3 17th came up short and fed back off the false front. Stark’s chip left a slippery four-footer and when Thompson held from just outside that distance, Grant had to hole to keep the match alive but watched her putt slide by on the low side.

The pairing of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall looked Europe’s best chance of getting a win as the pendulum swung back and forth in their tie with Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee. This was the highest quality of the four matches, with birdie or better required to win each of the 18 holes played.

The Americans took first blood, before back-to-back wins on five and six saw Europe hit the front. The following four were again all won with birdie, with the US edging back in front with three of them. It was all-square again after 12, and would remain so until both Boutier and Kang hit it close on 17.

In classic matchplay format, Lee, putting first, holed and Hall missed, and when Boutier’s birdie putt on 18 stayed wide, it was another red point on the board.

In match number three, Maguire almost single-handedly kept Europe in the tie as she holed a clutch birdie putt on the sixth and a par putt on seven to level the tie. The Americans pulled two ahead again with wins on nine and 11.

The next four were shared, but again, it was thanks largely to Leona. A superb putt on the 15th stopped Europe from falling three back, and another for birdie won the 16th. With the Americans in close on 17, Maguire holed another incredible 30-footer to take the match up 18, but Nordqvist’s 12-footer was never close to going in and Corpuz held her nerve on a five-footer to complete the clean sweep with the final match already settled.

“Yeah, she’s a very tough competitor,” Korda said of Maguire afterwards having lost twice to her last time out. “I think playing against her in Solheim Cup or any match play event head-to-head, she brings a lot of fire to the table. So I’m happy that we got the W, that Allisen made the putt that I left her on 18, and that we have a lot of red on the board.”

At the bottom of the order, Charley Hull and Emily Kristine Pedersen lost four of the opening six and six of the first nine holes to Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight. Hull, who was battling a neck injury she picked up early in the week, struggled throughout and Pedersen, one of the most accurate players on tour, was uncharacteristically loose with her ball striking.

To their credit, they refused to throw in the towel and reduced the deficit to five with a birdie-two on 10, but it would prove too little, too late as the American duo closed out a 5&4 victory.


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