Back where they originally started, tied, and with all to play for: Europe’s resurgence from their dismal opening foursomes session on Friday was completed after a second day in which Suzann Pettersen’s team again showed the type of passion and resilience that once upon a time was a trademark of the Norwegian with a performance that left her side locked with the United States at eight points apiece heading into Sunday’s final session of 12 singles to determine the 18th edition of the Solheim Cup.
After the second morning of foursomes finished level, with the USA carrying a 7-5 leading into the afternoon fourballs, Europe repeated their feat of Friday in claiming the session 3-1 to make it all to play for, with each team having destiny in their own hands, with only the singles left to play.
And, yet again, one of the leaders of Europe’s revival was Leona Maguire, who partnered Charley Hull – still troubled by a neck strain caused when picking up her golf bag last week – to a brilliant 4 and 3 win over Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing to lead from the front and put blue colours on the leaderboards dotted around the hilly terrain.
Ahead of the match, Pettersen had clear instructions for Maguire: “She said, ‘Do what I do, and that would be get a point’,” recalled the Cavan golfer, adding: “It was nice to get out early and get off early with Charley and just never give the Americans a chance to have a sniff at it.”
Maguire indeed contributed seven birdies in leading the way, her passion for the match exemplified by her tee shot to the par-three 12th hole. “Get up. Get up. GET UP!!” shouted Maguire in increasing intensity in urging the ball to the hole. It listened. It settled four feet from the flag and she duly rolled in the birdie putt that put them four up and it was all done and dusted on the 15th.
“Nelly and Ally are great players. We knew we had to bring our A games, just played really solid and didn’t really give them a chance to fight back at all,” said Maguire, who will play young American sensation Rose Zhang in the second of the 12 singles matches. “We’ve one more day to give it our best shot and I think that’s the great thing about this team, there’s so much fight. We’ve never given up. We believe in each other ... we will give it our best go tomorrow.”
The dynamic Maguire-Hull partnership led the way on a sunny afternoon that continued Europe’s impressive fightback.
Europe’s other wins were provided by Madelene Sagstrom and Emily Pedersen who defeated Rose Zhang and Andrea Lee by 2 and 1, while Carlota Ciganda and Linn Grant (who opened with six straight birdies) beat Lilia Vu and Danielle Kang by 2 and 1.
The sole American win was provided by Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin who recovered from being two down through 10 holes to push on over the back nine to secure a one hole win over Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall.
“There is still 12 points up for grabs tomorrow but we have made quite a comeback and now we are tied. Now, we just put that in fifth gear and we keep going,” said Pettersen.
“It is only in the Solheim Cup you see this level of golf and the desire and the passion and the putts being made and the shots that are hit. It is just unbelievable. It keeps happening every single time.
“If you look at where we started after yesterday morning [losing the opening foursomes 4-0], we have come a long way. This is like climbing a mountain, but coming back down is as important. I am going to see if I can manage to regroup these girls and we will be ready to go.”
Very much all to play for, for both teams.
Sunday’s singles draw [all times Irish]
10.10 Linn Grant v Megan Khang
10.22 Leona Maguire v Rose Zhang
10.34 Charley Hull v Danielle Kang
10.46 Anna Nordqvist v Jennifer Kupcho
10.58 Georgia Hall v Andrea Lee
11.10 Gemma Dryburgh v Cheyenne Knight
11.22 Celine Boutier v Angel Yin
11.34 Caroline Hedwall v Ally Ewing
11.46 Madelene Sagstrom v Lilia Vu
11.58 Maja Stark v Allisen Corpuz
12.10 Carlota Ciganda v Nelly Korda
12.22 Emily Pedersen v Lexi Thompson