Europe seal dramatic Solheim Cup win over United States
Last updated on .From the section Golf
Europe's women won an unlikely and epic Solheim Cup victory thanks to a dramatic late surge after the United States had been within touching distance of retaining the trophy at Killeen Castle in Ireland.
World number two Suzann Petterson was the inspiration, birdieing the last three holes to come from behind to beat Michelle Wie on the final green. Moments later, Swedish rookie Caroline Hedwall won the last two holes to snatch a half point against Ryann O'Toole, who bogeyed both closing holes.
With Azahara Munoz having just birdied the 17th to move into an unbeatable position against Angela Stanford, Europe were able to start celebrating their famous win. This 15-13 victory ended a run of three successive defeats.
On a day disrupted by the weather, driving rain and wind and the threat of lightning forced play to be suspended three times.
European captain Alison Nicholas said it was the best achievement of her illustrious career. The former US Open champion's decision to rest all of her players during the foursomes and fourball sessions paid off as her side won the singles series 7-5.
By contrast, American skipper Rosie Jones was left to rue playing Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr throughout the first two days. Creamer crashed to a heavy defeat in the top match and Kerr never made it to the first tee because of injury, handing an immediate point to the home side.
Catriona Matthew also delivered exactly the performance her captain wanted. Sent out first the experienced Scot collected a fifth successive singles victory by emphatically ending Creamer's unbeaten singles record 6 and 5.
Despite three putting the first, Matthew took full control from the moment she curled in a long birdie putt to win the second. Creamer failed to win a hole and was seven over par for the 13 holes played.
Matthew made a huge contribution for Europe with two wins and two halves from her four matches and Sophie Gustafson was even more important to the home cause.
When she closed out Stacy Lewis on the final green the tall Swede took her haul to four wins out of four and moved Europe to within three and half points of victory.
But the US were in the process of hitting back, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lang and Christina Kim all put points on the board for the holders and Juli Inkster snatched an unlikely half as she won the 18th with a par against Laura Davies.
Momentum was at that stage with the Americans and looked as though they would brush aside the setback of Kerr's withdrawal from the anchor match with Karen Stupples. The world number three was unable to swing her club on the range because of tendinitis in her right wrist and departed in tears.
"It started on Thursday and she was concerned after the opening ceremony," admitted US captain Rosie Jones, who had inexplicably failed to rest her top player earlier in the match.
Nicholas's tactics, however, were shown to be spot on as her team had just enough left through the dramatic closing matches to clinch the Cup.