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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Solheim Cup: Sunday Singles

The team strategies:
  • USA: Beth Daniel front-loaded with some of her best players, then scattered the rest throughout. She tried to put her best putters at the end of the lineup; as it turned out, Pressel and Gulbis were also her shortest hitters, and she expected them to be helped as the long course dried out.
  • Europe: Alison Nicholas looked at the USA’s past singles lineups, discussed them with her players, and made her matchups based on some educated guesses.

Match 17: Paula Creamer **3 & 2 vs. Suzann Pettersen

Creamer definitely played her best of the week. Pettersen played better today, but she’s a streaky player and this just wasn’t her week. Neverthless, this was a good match.

Match 18: Angela Stanford **5 & 4 vs. Becky Brewerton

A one-sided match. Stanford found her game in time for the singles and earned her first full point of the week. Brewerton never led―surprising, given her great play all week.

Match 19: Michelle Wie **1 UP vs. Helen Alfredsson

Wie was up by as many as 3, Alfredsson brought it back to square, and Wie finished it off on the 18th. All-in-all, a very well-played match by both players.

Match 20: Brittany Lang **HALVED vs. Laura Davies

This was a crushing loss for the Euros. Davies had this match well-in-hand. 3 up at one point and never worse than all square. This was a horrible week for Davies, who played only 2 matches and lost the other. Kudos to Lang, who never gave up and finally got the crucial half.

Match 21: Juli Inkster **HALVED vs. Gwladys Nocera

This was a pure bonus for the USA. Inkster never led until the 17th, but her play on the back nine was easily her best of the week.

Match 22: Kristy McPherson vs. Catriona Matthew **3 & 2

Matthew continued her amazing play. I think winning her first major, coupled with being at a good place in her life as wife and mother, may have created a new superstar for the Euros.

Match 23: Brittany Lincicome **3 & 2 vs. Sophie Gustafson

This was the battle of the bombers. Lincicome is getting better as she gets in more of these big situations. After a not-so-good Solheim two years ago, she played well under pressure this week and could be a real force in the majors next year if her putting continues to improve.

Match 24: Nicole Castrale vs. Diana Luna **3 & 2

Luna is the first Italian to play in the Solheim. This is my first time seeing her play, and she definitely has some game.

Match 25: Christina Kim **1 UP vs. Tania Elosegui

When Kim went dormie at 16, she secured a half-point that put the USA at 13 ½ points. It looked like her match might decide the cup, but the Pressel/Nordqvist match finished first with a whole point. Kim was never worse than all square.

Match 26: Cristie Kerr **HALVED vs. Maria Hjorth

Kerr was 2 down at one point, but rallied on the back nine to be 1 up on the 18th. Since the Cup had been already determined, she conceded a birdie putt to Hjorth for the half.

Match 27: Morgan Pressel **3 & 2 vs. Anna Nordqvist

For those of you keeping track, this is the match that officially guaranteed that the USA retained the Cup and remained undefeated at home. Well-played by both players, but both missed the green and Pressel chipped close enough for a conceded putt. Pressel broke down in tears during the interview afterwards, as did Captain Beth Daniel.

Match 28: Natalie Gulbis **HALVED vs. Janice Moodie

With the Cup already decided and the match all square, Gulbis and Moodie agreed to settle for a half. According to the rules, each hit a tee shot off the 18th, then agreed to halve.

In the end, the USA retained the Solheim Cup, but the matches were closer than the points might indicate.
Final point total: USA 16, Europe 12.

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