PARKER, Colo. – The Europeans wanted to make history by winning the Solheim Cup on American soil for the first time.
They did even better than that.
Caroline Hedwall became the first player in Solheim Cup history to win all five of her matches, the last one with a splendid shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 18th for a 1-up win over Michelle Wie that assured Europe of keeping the cup.
More than an hour later, Cristie Kerr and Karine Icher played all the way to the 18th green until conceding each other birdies. That half-point made it 18-10 in favor of Europe, the biggest blowout since the Solheim Cup began in 1990.
And the Europeans did it with six rookies on their team, who combined to go 12-5-2.
Catriona Matthew, at 43 the oldest player on the team, rallied to halve her match against Gerina Piller that gave Europe 14 1/2 points and an outright win in America.
It’s a fantastic feeling right now, European captain Liselotte Neumann said. I’m so proud of them. They played such good golf this week. They just played tremendous golf.
Charley Hull, the youngest player in Solheim Cup history at 17, capped off her amazing week by demolishing Paula Creamer in a match that set the tone for Europe. Carlota Ciganda handed Morgan Pressel her first loss in singles in four appearances to go 3-0 for the week.
Not even a one-hour delay due to lightning in the area could damper this European celebration. Suzann Pettersen was lining up her putt on the 16th hole when she heard the cheers from the 18th, got the news and began pumping her fist.
The way we played 16, 17 and 18 I think is what really made the difference, U.S. captain Meg Mallon said. It wasn’t for lack of preparation because we played this golf course quite a bit. So it wasn’t like a surprise for us. It was just a matter of who dropped the putts on those holes. And unfortunately, it was the Europeans.
Europe won 17 holes during that three-hole stretch this week, compared with 10 for the Americans.
Europe still trails 8-5 in the competition, but this was the first time it has won back-to-back.
Matthew holed the winning the putt, but the Europeans really won Saturday afternoon when they swept the fourballs matches to build a 10 1/2 -5 1/2 lead, matching the largest margin going into Sunday.
Europe’s biggest boost came from its youngest star.
Hull, playing like she had been here many times before, dropped in a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 6 to take her first lead, and she demoralized Creamer from there. The English teen hit an approach to 8 feet for birdie on the seventh, won the ninth when Creamer made double bogey and went 5 up when Creamer missed a short putt. The matched ended on the 14th in pars, and Hull’s week was over with two wins in three matches.