A week ago Europe beat the United States by 14.5 points 13.5 in the Solheim Cup, thus denying the visitors a third consecutive triumph. In keeping with the glacial pace of play, I have taken a week to get round to writing about it.
Say what you like about Rory McIlroy, but he seldom shies away from giving an opinion. Talking last week ahead of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth about the European Tour’s new initiative to combat slow play – penalty shots rather than fines – he remarked that he’d been watching events from Gleneagles the previous week.
“Slow play is not a great thing for the game,” he said. “I watched a lot of the Solheim Cup and it was really slow. As much as you want to sit there and support the European girls, it’s just hard not to get frustrated with it.” Reportedly Sky Sports received calls from several viewers, who were about to become ex-viewers, saying they couldn’t take any more and were switching channels or off.
The fourballs were taking over six hours, albeit an example from the first match out on Friday, a foursomes, made the point emphatically. The first tee shot was to be hit by Morgan Pressel for the USA. She and her fellow competitors had arrived on the tee in plenty of time, comfortably over five minutes before they were due to hit, but not until she had been introduced to the crowd did she and her caddie look over her yardage chart and figure out where to try to hit her drive. Again reportedly, if Carlota Ciganda had not holed a 10-froot putt for a win on the 16th in her singles against Danielle Kang, the American would have lost the hole anyway because she had carried on playing too slowly after being put on the clock.
Anyhow, appropriately belatedly, on to the golf. The teams were tied on 8-8 heading into the singles and the general suspicion was that the Americans should probably carry too much firepower to be thwarted. It seemed for much of the (long) afternoon that would indeed be the case. With three matches left on the course, Europe needed to win them all in order to prevail. The good news, however, was that in the bottom match Anna Nordqvist was about to close out the aforementioned Ms Pressel. Suddenly, Bronte Law won two holes to finish off Ally McDonald on the 17th, which meant it all came down to the 38-year-old wild card, Suzann Pettersen, and her match against Marina Alex, which was all-square going up the par-five 18th.
Pettersen had been something of a controversial captain’s pick by Catriona Matthew, not least because she had hardly played in two years following the birth of her son. No matter; she knew what to do. Her pitch for her third shot was to eight feet and the putt was never anywhere but in the centre of the cup. Game over! And so was her career; she announced her immediate retirement from professional golf. For Matthew, winning the Solheim Cup in her home country was the stellar moment of an outstanding career. ‘This the best,” she declared. If not the quickest.
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