2023 Solheim Cup: Americans inch closer to upset victory

After three sessions of the Solheim Cup, the Americans are closing in on their first win since 2017. Here’s what happened on the ground.

The post 2023 Solheim Cup: Americans inch closer to upset victory appeared first on Golf.

After three sessions of the Solheim Cup, the Americans are closing in on their first win since 2017. Here’s what happened on the ground.

The post 2023 Solheim Cup: Americans inch closer to upset victory appeared first on Golf.

CASARES, Spain — These team event weeks tend to trudge along slowly. Every early session at the Solheim Cup is worth just 14 percent of the championship. So when the Americans went out 4-0 Friday morning, it was time for a deep, European breath. There was still 86 percent of the Solheim Cup to be decided.

We saw that deep breath pay dividends Friday afternoon as the Euros came back to take a massive three points in the evening. Unfortunately for them, the morning came and went without the deficit decreasing. After three sessions, 42 percent of the Solheim Cup is complete and the Americans hold a 7-5 lead. Fortunately for the Euros, more than half of it remains. Here are four things that happened while you were sleeping.

Spain shows up!

By virtue of the rostering rules, Solheim Cup captains have to sit 33 percent of their roster during each of the first four sessions. It makes for dicey selections and plenty of what-if scenarios. And while most of the questions about the first captain’s decisions centered around the United States team — Stacy Lewis chose to sit upstart rookie Rose Zhang and World No. 2 Lilia Vu — a quietly questionable choice made by Euro captain Suzann Pettersen was to sit Carlotta Ciganda in her home country. 

“Carlota, I’m just trying to put a leash on this week,” Pettersen said Friday evening. “I mean, she would jump off and fly if she could. So I’m really just trying to keep her grounded.”

It’s possible that decision is our first point of hindsight head-scratching. Ciganda has started her home Solheim Cup 2-0 with Friday’s 4 and 2 win alongside Linn Grant and Saturday’s 2 and 1 win alongside Emily Kristine Pedersen. 

Team Kor-Cor cor-uises

Much has been made of the drivable 1st hole at this week’s Solheim Cup, but its value as a fantastic match play hole was never more on display than in the Nelly Korda-Allisen Corpuz v. Georgia Hall-Celine Boutier match.

Korda drove through the green in one, into the backside bunker, while Boutier laid up in the fairway. Advantage: USA. Hall tossed in a spinny wedge to about four feet and Corpuz’s bunker splash trickled and trickled and trickled to 20 or 25 feet. Suddenly, advantage: Europe.

But as can happen in match play, everything flipped. Korda poured in a bomb of a birdie putt, silencing the grandstand of supporters 300 yards away at the tee. It made that 4-footer for Boutier feel twice as long, and the No. 5 player in the world made it look so, missing the putt and losing the 1st in a wild reversal. Result: USA. It was a sign of things to come. 

The duo of Korda and Corpuz won the 2nd hole, the 6th, the 7th, the 11th and 13th, losing just the 4th hole along that stretch. They closed it out on the 15th hole, 5 and 3. Did it take a herculean effort? No. Boutier has been shockingly imperfect this week, especially with her putter. But when you can pair the MVP of the match thus far — Corpuz — with perhaps the best player in the world — Korda — it’s going to take a herculean effort on the other side to do something about it. 

Swedes don’t stop

Plenty was made of the fiery Swedish duo of Linn Grant and Maja Stark campaigning for months for Pettersen to pair them together at the Solheim Cup. And when Pettersen agreed, the campaign continued as Grant and Stark asked to go out in the first match Friday morning.

It didn’t go so well. Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang won the first three holes of that match and held on through a European comeback to win 2 and 1. But fear not, Pettersen promised her Saturday pairings would bring the energy. And to no surprise, she had Grant and Stark enlisted, batting cleanup this time against Andrea Lee and Danielle Kang in the final foursome match.

The match was a topsy-turvy affair that never saw any team go more than 1 Up until it was finished. Stark jammed a 20-footer into the 17th hole with plenty of pace, but it found the bottom of the cup to send the match to 18, where Grant lipped in a 10-footer for a second-straight birdie and a win. Yes, foursomes matches see a lot of putts given, but on the scorecard it looks like an alternate shot 66 from the Swedes. Most importantly, it was the fifth European point, keeping them within striking distance this afternoon.

Hedwall playing because of Solheim rule?

Caroline Hedwall’s Solheim Cup experience thus far, well, we don’t know much about it. The 34-year-old gave a press conference Wednesday, along with two of her teammates, and if you missed it, you’ve missed all of her public-facing actions this week. Hedwall didn’t play the first session Friday. She didn’t play the fourball session in the afternoon. Then, she was kept off the playing roster Saturday morning, too. 

But due to a special rule at the Solheim Cup, all players must play at least one session before the Sunday singles matches, which is why Saturday night Pettersen told reporters we would see Hedwall competing in a match Saturday at some point. Well, that point is coming in the afternoon fourball sessions. Hedwall will go off in the second afternoon match alongside Anna Nordqvist against Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin.

Below are the lineups for Saturday afternoon’s fourball matches.

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