Before the first ball was struck in the Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen of Norway was asked what the Europeans could do to hand the United States its first loss on home soil. Pettersen, who had been a member of three vanquished visiting teams in the biennial competition, said: "We still don't know what it takes, because we have never done it before."
The answer, it turns out, was sitting demurely next to Pettersen in the interview room. At 17, Charley Hull was the youngest competitor since the Solheim Cup's 1990 inception, and one of six rookies on this year's European squad.
Hull made Pettersen laugh when she said she did not expect to feel any more nervous on the first tee at Colorado Golf Club than before a club match at Woburn in Massachusetts, where she was taught by the same swing instructor, Lee Scarborough, who worked with the Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter.
On a sultry Sunday, Hull, from England, coolly defeated Paula Creamer, the 2010 US Open champion, 5 and 4, to deliver to Europe the first of the 3½ points it needed to keep the Cup it won at Killeen Castle in 2011.
After Stacy Lewis halved her match against Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda of Spain defeated Morgan Pressel, 4 and 2, and Caroline Hedwall beat Michelle Wie with a birdie at the 18th hole for the Cup-retaining point. Europe's 18-10 victory was the most lopsided in the event's history.
In sealing the decisive 14th point for the Europeans, Hedwall, a Swede who starred at Oklahoma State, became the first player in Solheim Cup history to go 5-0-0. It was the 24-year-old Hedwall’s second star turn in the event. In 2011, she earned a clutch half-point in the singles matches to cue Europe’s celebration.
"She may call the course her home now, because she really played some spectacular golf," Meg Mallon, the US captain said, referring to Hedwall. "But what you're seeing is the future of the Solheim Cup."
Hull woke up feeling ill and was feverish on the range. On the second tee, Annika Sorenstam, radioed for medicine, which Hull rejected, making do with a towel soaked in cold water that she wore like a scarf between shots. She missed three putts inside five feet on the front nine, but her ball striking remained so hale, it did not matter.
Hull was three up after nine and made five birdies (to Creamer’s one) in 14 holes. If Creamer looked discombobulated – and her discomfort standing over putts was obvious – it may have been because Hull is reminiscent of Creamer’s teenage self.
Hull was the second player, after Creamer, to play in the Curtis Cup, an amateur team event, one year and the Solheim Cup the next. After Hull secured her second point of the week, her expression did not change. She walked over to Creamer and they hugged. As they left the green,
Hull took out a ball and asked Creamer to autograph it. "I'm still a fan," said Hull, who will try to qualify for the LPGA Tour this year. "And I'm going to give it to my friend, James, because he's a big fan." Hull, who turned professional in March and finished second in her first five events on the Ladies European Tour, is as old school as Ben Crenshaw, who helped design the course that Hull turned into her debutante stage.
'Just hit it'
She did not break into a jig after every birdie, but she did pick up Creamer's ball or marker and hand it to her or her caddie when conceding a putt instead of simply waving her arms or nodding her head as she made her way to the next tee, as the Americans typically did. "This is how I always look at golf," Hull said. "I'm not going to die if I miss it. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again."
After she was added to the team as a discretionary pick, Hull received a pep talk from Poulter, who advised her: “Be respectful, but ruthless.” In her respectful ruthlessness, Hull epitomised the European team. Whereas the Americans exuded self-belief, the Europeans oozed confidence on the slick, undulating greens, which enabled them to put to use the bump-and-run skills they developed on Europe’s links courses.
They made more putts than the Americans and showed more poise, turning a deaf ear to the partisan crowds who cheered their bad shots and a blind eye to the Americans, who wiggled their polished nails in front of their faces after every good result for reasons that the players said would remain in their team room.
Hull, who said cheers, for or against her, had no effect on her "because it's not going to make the ball go in".
New York Times