Foursomes session halved as US retain two-point lead at Solheim Cup

Mark McGowan

Maja Stark (facing) embraces Linn Grant after clinching a vital point (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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It was honours even in the Saturday morning foursomes at Finca Cortesin as Europe and America both won two matches apiece with the Americans retaining their two-point overnight advantage.

Having put a lot of blue on the scoreboard in the early stages of the round, Europe will likely see this as an opportunity missed to further claw back the deficit they accrued in yesterday’s opening session in which the US won all four of the matches.

Both sides retained three of the four pairings that played in Friday’s opening session with the only European change seeing Carlotta Ciganda come in for Charley Hull and partnering with Emily Pedersen. Stacy Lewis’ opted to send out Lilia Vu and Jennifer Kupcho instead of Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight, and the new-look pairings were both sent out in the opening match.

Never trailing, the European duo hit the front on five and doubled their advantage on six, but then lost back-to-back holes and the match lay all-square at the turn. In truth, it was a rather scrappy affair, and Europe got their noses in front again on 10 and stretched it to two on 13 thanks largely to poor putting from the Americans, and though Vu would strike back with an incredible approach to ‘gimme’ range the long par-4 15th, more mistakes saw Europe go back 2Up with two to play.

After her heroics in yesterday’s fourball matches, Leona Maguire reprised her foursomes partnership with Anna Nordqvist and they faced Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang in match #2. After the crushing manner of Thompson’s defeat to Maguire in yesterday’s fourball session, when Europe took a 2UP advantage and looked primed to stretch it to three at eighth, this one looked as though it could be destined for an early finish.

But from the seeming dead zone long and left of the green on the par-5, Thompson pitched to 20 feet and Khang holed for an unlikely half. They then reeled off three wins in succession, thanks largely to uncharacteristically loose fairway woods from Maguire. Three ties followed, but the European pairing got back in their groove on 15, with Maguire’s long approach setting up a 15-footer that Nordqvist drained to take it back to all-square.

With match number three seeing the American pair of Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz easily defeating Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall 5&3, the remaining two matches on course had taken on added importance as European wins in both would see the sides tied through three sessions and US wins would see all the good work in yesterday’s fourballs undone.

In the anchor match, Maja Stark and Linn Grant’s battle with Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee was a nail-biter. Four times the home side took the lead, and four times they were pegged back over the first 14 holes, but Europe edged back in front again with a two-putt par on 15.

Up ahead, Maguire’s match had reached 17 all-square thanks to the excellence of Maguire and Khang’s pitch shots at 16, with Thompson and Nordqvist both holing clutch putts, but the Swede’s tee shot on the par-3 17th flew long and caught the rear bunker and Thompson, playing second, found the putting surface. When Europe failed to get up and down, the US pairing took a 1UP lead to the 18th.

Not possessing the firepower to go for the par-5 in two, Nordqvist laid up and Maguire’s wedge didn’t put enough pressure on the Americans and the match ended in anti-climactic fashion as Nordqvist’s birdie putt wasn’t remotely close and the match was conceded.

The drama showed no signs of dissipating in the final match, however, as Lee drained a 25-footer to tie it up once again on 16, but Stark responded from a similar distance on 17 to guarantee at least a half-point.

But there looked to be one final twist in the tale coming as Lee, from a similar position to Maguire, wedged close leaving Linn a 10-footer that, in all likelihood, the rookie had to convert. But convert she did, ensuring the deficit is just two ahead of the final paired session.


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