As a great commentator said on that night in May, ‘hello, hello, here we go.’
Suzann Pettersen’s team were on their knees after suffering a 4-0 whitewash to the USA in the opening foursomes session of the Solheim Cup on Friday morning but they left Finca Cortesin amid a carnival of hysterics and with renewed life in this contest.
Sport has a habit of springing up moments of inspiration that spark unlikely comebacks whether it’s Steven Gerrard scoring ‘that’ header or Ian Poulter’s bug eyes in Medinah, there’s always a moment.
Step forward, who else? None other than Europe’s prime assassin Leona Maguire who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to potentially turn the Solheim Cup around.
An uninspiring Europe emerged timid and nervy on Friday morning but surely they will be raring to go on Saturday morning after a Maguire inspired late comeback on Friday afternoon saw them half their four point gap to 3-5 and a 3-5 scoreline that will feel like a draw.
It’s not the first time the continent have produced eleventh hour heroics to keep their heads above water with Maguire producing her own Medinah moment.
With her team in trouble at the 18th green, the Cavan star came up with a moment of magic to chip in for birdie from just off the front of the green, and all of a sudden Lexi Thompson had an up and down from the rough to tie the match, rather than win. Remarkably, Thompson, who had played flawlessly all day, cracked under the pressure and produced a shot akin to her woeful form of 2023. Her eagle chip was inexplicably shanked from the green side rough and all of a sudden Europe went from staring down the barrel of a 1DN defeat to the euphoria of snatching the most unlikely of wins to breathe new life into their historic three-in-a-row hopes.
It was the hosts first full point of this year’s contest after Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom fought so brilliantly to share the spoils with Megan Khang and Rose Zhang in the top four balls match.
Home hero Carlota Ciganda delivered for her adoring fans alongside rookie Linn Grant who attuned for a sketchy morning with a convincing 4&2 win over Angel Yin and Ally Ewing before some magic from Maja Stark and Allison Corpuz saw their fourball match fairly halved in an absolutely sensational game.
Amazingly, if you had offered USA captain Stacy Lewis a 3-5 scoreline, there is no doubt that she would have snapped your hand off before a tee shot had been struck in anger. But context is everything. Although seven of the last eight Solheim Cups have been won by the team leading after the opening day, it is the Europeans who will be buoyed by their fourball fightback.
Everything that could go wrong did for Pettersen on Friday morning. The Norwegian’s bold move to put two rookies alongside each other in the opening match (Stark/Grant) backfired while the clearly injured Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen were battered in the anchor match.
While the middle two matches went the distance, Europe never looked like getting anything such was the flat and eery atmosphere around Finca Cortesin on Friday morning.
Indeed, three of the four matches on Friday afternoon went the distance but the Europeans played as good if not better golf than their American opponents. On another day the Stars and Stripes might have even extended their advantage heading into Saturday but a courageous charge inspired by Maguire has lifted Europe back into this contest.
Maguire didn’t do it all on her own, Pedersen had the moment of the day with only the second-ever hole in one in the Solheim Cup while Dryburgh recovered from some early nerves to hole out from 50 yards and give the home fans something to cheer about.
All of a sudden things were happening for the home side, led by the awesome Maguire.
The 28-year-old played well but putted particularly well late on to keep her foursomes match alive alongside an out of sorts Anna Nordqvist – who sat out the afternoon session – as she suffered her first Solheim Cup loss having collected 4.5 points from five sessions two years ago.
If anything, she went up another gear in the afternoon alongside Georgia Hall in Europe’s marquee pairing. While Hall got things rolling on the fourth, she was poor overall with Maguire a comfortable four shots better than the Englishwoman and undoubtedly Europe’s taliswoman.
Finca is a tough walk, but Pettersen might be forced to give the Irish star all five sessions.
Leona, a two-time LPGA Tour winner may not have enough individual wins in some people’s eyes but the Solheim Cup is her competition and while she spearheaded a charge to victory in Ohio, she has dragged her team back into things in Spain.