Having lost all four of the matches in the opening foursomes, Team Europe have rallied to tie the Solheim Cup after the fourth and final pairs session as a 3-1 win made it eight points apiece.
Inspired by the lead out pairing of Leona Maguire and Charley Hull, the Europeans came roaring from the traps and did most of the damage in the early stages, building a platform for success that the spirited American resistance was only able to break in one of the four matches.
European captain Suzann Pettersen sent three players out for the fourth paired match in succession, meaning that Maguire, Linn Grant and Emily Pedersen will be marked for full attendance after tomorrow’s singles.
With Hull’s neck injury subsiding, she was sent back into action alongside Maguire and they were sent out first where they faced the undefeated Nelly Korda, though this time the world number three had Ally Ewing for company.
Maguire had looked a little out of sorts on the back nine of her foursomes match earlier, though as the day before, wasn’t helped a great deal by Anna Nordqvist, and that she’d be rested for a session for the first time in her Solheim Cup career seemed a distinct possibility. But Pettersen retained her faith in the Cavan woman, and was repaid in spades as Maguire came out firing with a halving birdie at one and hole-winning birdies at, two, four and eight as the home pair raced into a 4UP lead.
They’d lose just one hole to a birdie-two at 10, but restored their four-hole lead when Maguire threw a dart at the par-4 12th, and eventually closed out the match on 15 for a 4&3 win. In total, Maguire covered the 14 holes in -7 on her own ball, and Hull had three birdies of her own as Europe drew within one point overall for the first time since noon on Friday.
“I think Suzann gave us a job to do and we’ve done it,” Maguire said afterwards. “So hopefully the girls can get a little bit positivity, feedback to the groups and give them a little bit of energy to finish strong.”
In match number two, Nordqvist was a surprise selection given her two losses and rather uninspiring play, but she chosen to partner Caroline Hedwall who was playing her first match of the event against Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin. Nordqvist birdied the first for a win and then provided steady backup support as Hedwall went on a birdie blitz with four in the first eight holes and Europe pulled two clear.
But the US pair were hanging tough and with Hedwall unable to keep the momentum going, reeled off three wins in succession from 11 through 13 to take their first lead of the day, and it was a lead they’d never relinquish, taking it all the way to 18 where Yin hit a monster drive and found the putting surface of the par-5 in two. From there, a good lag was enough to put USA’s eighth point on the board and deny Europe the chance of a clean sweep of their own in the fourball session.
In the third match, another Scandinavian pairing of Madelene Sagstrom and Emily Pedersen faced Rose Zhang and Andrea Lee, and the Americans couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as Zhang drove the green and holed an eagle putt to take an early lead.
Europe hit back and hit the front on the seventh, and after sharing just two of the opening seven holes, halved the following seven before another Pedersen birdie put them 2UP with three to play and two pars were enough to see them over the line.
In the final match, Linn Grant and Carlotta Ciganda resumed their partnership that had served Europe well on Friday and squared off against Danielle Kang and Lilia Vu.
Undefeated in both of her matches, Ciganda played second fiddle a little as Grant birdied seven of the opening 11 holes, but the US duo were dovetailing nicely and it wasn’t until the sixth that one of Grant’s birdies was a winning one, but the standard in the final match was of the highest order and, despite going 2UP on 12, they were immediately pegged back and the match took on additional importance as it reached the latter stages.
While Grant took control of the early exchanges, it was the feisty Spaniard who provided the telling moments down the stretch, holing a crucial par-saving putt for a win on 12 and sinking another for birdie and a win on 16 to make the match dormy and par on 17 was enough to complete the comeback and see Europe draw level ahead of the final day.
“We have to remember, we’re not there yet,” warned Suzann Pettersen after the final match, “there’s still 12 points up for grabs tomorrow but we’ve made a great comeback and now we’re tied so we’ve got to keep it in fifth gear and keep going.
“It’s only in the Solheim Cup that you see this level of golf, and the desire, the passion, the putts made and the shots hit. It keeps happening every time.”