Europe edge into controversial two-point Solheim lead over USA
Hosts unhappy with point won by Suzann Pettersen and partner Carlota Ciganda
Suzann Pettersen of Norway (left) and Carlota Ciganda of Spain celebrate on the 18th green after they defeated Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson of the Untied States in Parker, Colorado. Photograph: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Suzann Pettersen snatched her second win of the day in controversial fashion to ensure Europe maintained their two-point lead over the United States on a dramatic first day of their Solheim Cup defence in Colorado.
Pettersen and partner Carlota Ciganda claimed a one-up victory over Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson that had looked unlikely before a disputed ruling went their way on the 15th.
It proved to be a key moment as Europe, with that point and another from Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson, halved the afternoon fourballs to finish the day 5-3 ahead having dominated the morning session.
The controversy came with the first of the afternoon matches all square on the 15th - after Pettersen and a misfiring Ciganda had come back from two holes behind - when the Spaniard found a hazard from her second shot.
Officials debated for some time how to continue, and the resulting ruling saw Ciganda drop her ball a long way from where it lay.
Ciganda went on to salvage par from the hole and a birdie from Pettersen at the 16th ensured the point went to Europe.
The incident caused a lengthy stoppage in play, leaving the American pair - Thompson in particular - clearly unhappy. But Pettersen was happy to ignore the controversy and focus on a satisfying outcome for her and Solheim Cup debutant Ciganda.
“This has been a very long day,” she told Sky Sports. “It was a really weird match. No one really got it going. It was just a matter of hanging in there. I’m so proud of her - her first match ever in the Solheim Cup. I remember it, it’s not easy, and I’m so proud of her.
“I love it. There’s no better pressure, no more satisfaction, I just wish I could fight for myself like this when I’m out competing, but the Solheim means everything.”
Ciganda added: “I’m so happy to win the point for Europe. I was a little bit nervous. I just tried to keep it going. I played better on the back nine and the important thing is we won the point.”
Europe’s other point of the afternoon came in less controversial fashion as Hedwall and Masson led Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller from the first hole to claim a 2&1 victory. It was Hedwall’s second point of the day.
The Americans were at least able to finish the day in positive fashion as, after Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang eased past Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas 4&3, Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie teamed up to earn the hosts’ third point of the day.
There was a measure of vindication too for Wie - on the team via a captain’s pick seen in some quarters as controversial - who holed an eye-catching chip at the 13th to put her and Kerr two up against Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull.
“It feels great,” Wie said. “We needed that point - I wanna see more red on that board.”
Europe had got their title defence off to a flying start by going 3-1 up in the morning foursomes.
Anna Nordqvist and Hedwall got the holders off to the perfect start as they beat Lewis and Lizette Salas 4&2 and that was quickly followed by a second point with Pettersen and Beatriz Recari claiming a 2&1 victory over Lang and Stanford.
Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda then got the United States on the board as they beat Matthew and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 3&2 but Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher won their match with Paula Creamer and Kerr 2&1 to give Europe a two-point cushion.