In the only round-of-16 match that went all the way to the 18th hole, it was Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela who emerged victorious, beating Anna Nordqvist 1 up to advance to the quarterfinals. The Stanford University alum raced out of the gate, winning the first two holes to take an early 2-up lead. Nordqvist fought back, birdieing the par-3 5th hole to get back to 1 down, but Valenzuela won No. 6 to once again sit two ahead. The pair tied holes 7 and 8, and Nordqvist struck again on the par-5 9th hole, winning with a par to now sit 1 down with nine to play. A Valenzuela birdie on the par-4 11th gave her back her 2-up lead and she extended it to 3 up, making a par on No. 14 to win the hole.
Not one to give up easily, Nordqvist won holes 15 and 16, going par-birdie to move back to 1 down with two to play, putting pressure on the 25-year-old to close out the match. But Valenzuela wasn’t rattled, chipping in for the tie on the par-3 17th and matching Nordqvist’s par on the notoriously tricky par-4 18th hole to ultimately win the match 1 up and move on to the elite eight.
“A little bit of an adrenaline rush definitely towards the end, but really happy with this win. I felt like I played really solid. Missed an opportunity on 9 to go I believe 4-up, 2- or 3-up. I can't remember. But overall I played really solid,” said Valenzuela, who is one of five players that have won every one of their matches so far this week. “That chip-in on 17 was really huge and gave me a lot of momentum going into the last one to just close the match.”
While victory is always sweet, this win means just a little bit more to Valenzuela than the others. Not only is Nordqvist a tried-and-true match-play competitor with a 14-10-3 Solheim Cup record, the 35-year-old Swede is also a player that Valenzuela looks up to and hopes to emulate as she progresses in her LPGA Tour career.
“I knew (Anna Nordqvist) was going to grind and make my life really tough. I mean, she's one hell of a competitor. Even the putts she made today were always so clutch. I knew it was going to be really tough,” said Valenzuela of her opponent. “I'm staying with Carlota (Ciganda) this week and she was like, ‘man, Anna is a tough cookie out there.’“She's such a great champion. I've always looked up to her. It just feels great to get a point to one of your role models.”