WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Cristie Kerr thrust her right fist in the sky and walked in the final few feet of her clutch birdie at the last Friday at the Solheim Cup.
How many times have we seen that over the last two decades?
Kerr buried a 15-footer to complete a terrific comeback, teaming with Lexi Thompson to halve their foursome match after being 2 down with two holes to go against Europe’s Mel Reid and Charley Hull.
A roar rolled across central Iowa.
The real story, though, was the desperation in that putt.
The Americans needed it to keep the Euros from practically owning the morning foursomes session.
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Kerr and Thompson were the most formidable and proven American team sent out by U.S. captain Juli Inkster. They were her leadoff tandem in alternate shot. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller were Inkster’s next best duo, sent out as the anchor team.
But those American power teams needed Kerr’s putt to keep from getting shut out. They combined to barely salvage a half point.
Lewis and Piller were 2 up stepping to the 13th tee, but Europe’s Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher charged back to win three of the next four holes and hold on for a 1-up victory.
The Euros won the morning foursomes, 2½ to 1½.
“Everybody has their head up,” Inkster said. “First day, can’t get too hard on themselves. Playing a lot of golf.”
European captain Annika Sorenstam was pleased, but equally guarded about what one session means.
“It’s the beginning of a marathon,” she said.
Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas claimed the only outright victory for the Americans, defeating Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson, 1 up. And Kang had to hole an 8-foot putt for par at the last to secure that point.
“It was so special,” said Kang, playing in her first Solheim Cup. “If I could use some cuss words to explain to you how much it means to me, I would explain it better. It was absolutely amazing.”
Anna Nordqvist, Europe’s best player, teamed with Solheim Cup rookie Georgia Hall to defeat Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst, 3 and 1.