Europe narrows gap to two points with late-day heroics at 2023 Solheim Cup

It could’ve gotten ugly real fast. Instead, Team Europe holed out three shots – including only the second ace in Solheim Cup history – in the afternoon fourball session to claw their way back and secure momentum after the U.S. team’s historic morning sweep.

In fact, it looked for a moment like Europe might get a sweep themselves in the afternoon. With three of four matches extending to the 18th as sunlight dwindled, Europe managed to put up three points, and now trail the Americans 5-3 with two days left of competition.

“I have to say, I’m immensely proud of the way the entire team fought back in the afternoon,” said European captain Suzann Pettersen. “It’s not easy to stand on that tee in the afternoon knowing you’re down four after the first session. So I got to say, hat’s off to all my players, the way they fought and the way they showed their character on this Friday afternoon. I think the level of golf that was played in the afternoon was unbelievable.”

Solheim Cup: Photos

Leona Maguire, the undisputed MVP of the 2021 Cup at Inverness, chipped in on the 18th hole to secure Europe’s first full point alongside partner Georgia Hall.

“She turned around to me and said, ‘How would you have done it?’ ” said Pettersen. “And I said, ‘just the same.’ ”

Both Maguire and Hall played 36 holes at hilly Finca Cortesin but dug deep.

“It was really tough with the wind,” said Maguire. “I don’t think I ever hit as many 3-woods in my life. But every half point, every point, is really hard-earned and just really proud of the whole team for fighting back this afternoon.”

Emily Pedersen struggled early on Friday but gave the home crowd a jolt of energy with an ace on the par-3 12th and nearly a second one on the 17th.

Gemma Dryburgh of Team Europe reacts on the 12th green during Day One of The Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club on September 22, 2023 in Casares, Spain. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

It wasn’t long after that rookie Gemma Dryburgh chipped in from 30 yards on the 16th playing alongside Madelene Sagstrom. Rose Zhang drained a birdie putt on top to halve the hole, but it was still a building block of momentum for Pettersen’s squad.

“I loved every minute of it,” said Dryburgh. “That chip-in on 16 was the pinnacle, but I had to calm myself down for the next hole, so that was a new experience for me.”

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda waited her entire life to tee it up in a Solheim Cup in Spain, and then she had to wait all morning before Pettersen put her in the lineup. The Spaniard didn’t disappoint, teaming up with Sweden’s Linn Grant to give Europe its most decisive victory, 4 and 2.

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

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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