LPGA.com counts down to the end of 2013 with the LPGA Tour's 13 top stories of the year. Join us as we look back at the year's most memorable milestones. Read about Europe's dramatic win at the 2013 Solheim Cup in Story No. 3.
There was plenty of drama leading into the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. The U.S. Team was looking to recover from a devastating loss on European soil in 2011 and entered the week more prepared and motived than ever before, but it was the Europeans who ended up making a big mark that week. After taking a commanding 10 ½ - 5 ½ lead heading into Sunday’s singles matches, the European Team charged to the finish line and sealed a 18-10 -- the largest winning margin in Solheim Cup history -- to capture the Cup on American soil for the first time in the event’s history.
“It's a fantastic feeling,” European Solheim Cup captain Liselotte Neumann said. “I just can't tell you how proud I am of all of them. They all really played so well. They just played tremendous golf. “
The European Team took the early lead Friday morning, ending the Foursome matches 3-1. They went on to win two more matches in the afternoon four-ball session to take a 5-3 lead over the U.S. Team heading into Saturday’s second day of play. Saturday morning’s foursomes matches brought out a different U.S. Team, as they fought to earn 2 ½ points to trail Europe 6 ½-5 ½ entering the afternoon four-ball matches. But a hungry European Team increased their lead thanks to a spectacular afternoon four-ball session on Saturday afternoon in which they took all four points. Team Europe led the U.S. Team 10 ½ - 5 ½ heading into Sunday’s singles matches, which ties their largest lead ever heading into the final day of the Solheim Cup.
As the sun rose over the Rocky Mountains on Sunday, the Americans knew that it would take a massive effort for them to get the Cup back, as they needed to win nine points out of the 12 singles matches. U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon sent out her top two American players in the first two matches of the day in order to try and get momentum on their side. Unfortunately for the U.S. team neither Stacy Lewis nor Paula Creamer was able to capture a full point. Creamer lost easily, 5&4, to 17-year-old rookie sensation Charley Hull while Lewis halved with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist. Brittany Lang kept the U.S. hopes alive by capturing the first solid point for the U.S. with a 2&1 victory over Spain’s Azahara Munoz.
The U.S. Team started out their matches strong, taking the lead in many of their matches but any momentum they had was then halted by Mother Nature. Play was suspended at 5:20 p.m. local time due to lightning in the area. After nearly an hour delay, play resumed at 6:16 p.m. with the critical match between Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall and Michelle Wie on the 17th hole. The two players halved the par-3 17th to go to 18 all-square and that’s when Hedwall stepped up and delivered a 4-foot birdie putt on 18 assuring the European’s would retain the Cup for the first time since the event began in 1990. One match later, European Solheim Cup veteran Catriona Matthew sank a par putt on the 18th hole to halve her match with Gerina Piller and earn the half-point that gave the Europeans back-to-back victories for the first time in the history of the event.
Playing in her third Solheim Cup, Brittany Lang was the star for the U.S. Team as she was the only American with a winning record for the week, posting 3-1-0. Lang’s only loss came during Friday’s Foursome matches when she was paired with Angela Stanford. The pair fell to Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Spain’s Beatriz Recarit, 2&1. Lang now holds an overall Solheim Cup record of 5-4-2.
Perhaps it was only fitting that Caroline Hedwall secured the point that would retain the Cup for Europe since it also brought her record for the week to 5-0. The 24-year-old Swede is the only player in Solheim Cup history to earn five points in a single event. The previous record had been 4 ½ points, which was held by one of this year’s European assistant Solheim Cup captains, Carin Koch.