The United States displayed clear superiority to win the Solheim Cup by 16.5 to 11.5, with Europes Annika Sorenstam saying: We just got outplayed
An anti-climactic conclusion to the 15th Solheim Cup appeared inevitable even before a Sunday shot was struck. The US, after all, would have needed to produce one of the greatest sporting capitulations of all time if failing to win from a position of 10.5 to 5.5 ahead.
There was to be no such stumble. Annika Sorenstam and her European team are worthy of credit for a singles showing in which the 12 matches returned six points a side. The visitors, despite being so glaringly short of their opponents in terms of combined talent, refused to go down without a fight. Nonetheless the better team by far retained the cup.
We just got outplayed. Theres no doubt about it, said a pragmatic Sorenstam. Im so proud of how hard they fought. Its not easy coming out here on a Sunday with the team so far behind.
Im proud of them, added Sorenstam. They were out there fighting every single match, every single point. I congratulate the USA because they played some awesome golf.
A winning score of 16.5 to 11.5 at least meant European respectability. For context Europe won 18-10 in Colorado four years ago. Juli Inkster has overseen the forceful reply in becoming the second woman to lead the United States to multiple Solheim Cup wins.
I really havent been nervous all week but today I was a little bit nervous, Inkster said. You know what, this team just bonded. They believed in each other. They played for the person behind them and in front of them. And they played some amazing golf.
The marquee match of this event proved to be the first to take to Des Moines Country Club on Sunday. Anna Nordqvist raced to the seemingly unassailable position of 4 up against Lexi Thompson at the turn before the American produced a stunning run, played a seven-hole stretch in eight under par to move to 1 up. Nordqvist would have been forgiven dizziness but instead played a glorious approach shot into the 18th, with a subsequent concession ensuring the halved match. It seemed fair.
That was the weirdest round of golf Ive ever played, said Thompson. Front nine I dont think I was awake. And the back nine I just played lights out.
In proving the value of captaincy, a turning point for Thompson appeared to be a pep talk from Inkster and her assistant Nancy Lopez. It helped me out a lot, the world No2 said. I struggled with my first few holes. I dont really know what was going on.
Having them there for me, picking me up, just telling me to keep my head up and that Im the best, and I can do this, I can come back and make six birdies, seven birdies in a row. It means the world to me to have them there for me. And thats what this event is all about, to have captains and assistant captains like that.
Angel Yins sharing of a point with Caroline Masson formally ensured retention of the cup, given Lizette Salas was 2 up with as many holes to play against Jodi Ewart Shadoff. Salas was to take the US past the 14-point marker with a single hole victory. Cristie Kerr continued her superb form here with a 2&1 triumph over Melissa Reid. Danielle Kang closed out the bottom match, 3&1, against Emily Pedersen.
It was a great shame that Georgia Hall, a shining light for Europe, lost her match to Paula Creamer in such stinging circumstances. Hall missed from 5ft on the 18th green to hand Creamer a 1-up success but it must be hoped the 21-year-old from Bournemouth does not let that sense of disappointment linger for long; Halls worth to Europe was emphasised by her appearance in all five matches. Her career path seems inevitably set towards the lucrative LPGA Tour.
Shes a rookie, she played all five matches this week and she played awesome, Creamer said of Hall. I knew that she was going to be a fighter. I see a lot of me in her, just that grinder attitude, doesnt matter where the game is at. Its an unfortunate finish for her because she really did play well. We deserve to halve that match, I truly believe that.
Charley Hulls 1-up win over Brittany Lang was notable given the continuing wrist problems encountered by the Kettering player. Hull admitted in the aftermath of her round that she had played through pain.
Catriona Matthew, days from her 48th birthday, provided a further element of European cheer when beating Stacy Lewis by the same margin.
Sorenstam ruled out continuing as captain of the Europe team. The 46-year-old Swede said: I said this was a one-time thing for me. It is time to move the torch to the next person.
I am very honoured [to have beencaptain]. We had a great leadership team and players to work with and I couldnt have asked for any more.
Matthew is expected to be the captain when Europe host the United States at Gleneagles in 2019. For now it looks doubtful whether two years will prove sufficient to bridge an obvious gulf.