Europe secured only its second victory on US soil as they clinched a thrilling 15-13 win over USA in the 2021 Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Ohio.
Heading into the final day, Europe had a two-point lead over the home side and only needed five points to retain the coveted trophy.
It was Matilda Castren’s point which ensured Europe would be heading back across the Atlantic with trophy in hand while Emily Kristine Pedersen, in the final match of the day, sealed the victory.
“I’m so proud of this team. At the end of the day, I don’t hit any golf shots, It is really up to them,” said winning captain Catriona Matthew, who becomes the first European captain to win the competition twice and to defend the trophy. “They are the ones that won it. They deserve all the credit, so thank you, team. You made me look good!”
She added: “It was really nerve-wracking watching those final matches. When you’re on the sidelines you can’t do anything about it. Matilda made a fantastic up-and-down from kind of a plugged lie in the bunker and then holed about an 18-footer to win her match. That tide had been kind of turning towards the Americans, and I think it just turned it back towards us, and then Emily finished it off with her victory on the last hole.”
Europe started the day brightly and got on the board early when rookie Leona Maguire produced a fantastic match against Jennifer Kupcho which saw her win 5&4. The Irishwoman has had a phenomenal Solheim Cup debut winning 4.5 out of the 5 points available to her.
“I have given my absolute all this week. I couldn’t have given it anything more and I couldn’t have asked for a better week,” said Maguire. “I had two phenomenal partners in Mel and Georgia as well, who just let me do my thing and I’m so proud of getting those points.”
Another point soon went on the board for Europe when Madelene Sagstrom recorded a 3&2 victory over Ally Ewing. Minutes later Celine Boutier clinched a 5&4 win over Mina Harigae to put Europe into pole position with only two more points needed to retain the trophy.
“It has been such an amazing week. I just didn’t make a mistake today, I played really solid from the start and that definitely helped me get the win,” said Boutier. “The team chemistry has been unbelievable, we all got along so well, and I think the fact we’re secluded here amongst all the Americans has brought us closer together because we have to stick with and play for each other.”
On a week when 16 of the 28 many matches made it to the 18th green, the final day was no exception and the first match saw Anna Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson each earn half a point for their teams.
The start of a USA fightback had begun as Nelly Korda pulled a point back with a 1 up win over Georgia Hall, while next up saw Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Austin Ernst halve their match. The Americans gained two more points when Megan Khang and Brittany Altomare beat Sophia Popov and Carlota Ciganda to bring the scores to 13-11.
Retaining the trophy came down to Castren, who headed down the 18th fairway 1 up in her match against Lizette Salas. The Finn made an excellent up-and-down from the bunker to seal that all-important 14th point and ensure Europe would not leave empty-handed.
“It was so cool having the whole team there and just seeing those blue and yellow colours on the sidelines and people cheering,” said Castren. “I knew that putt was important, but I didn’t exactly know what the score was at that time. I just knew I had to make it. Me and Mikey picked a good line, and I picked the right pace, and it went straight in.”
With Europe leading 14-11, the Americans claimed another two points to close the gap as Yealimi Noh beating Mel Reid 1 up and Jessica Korda beating Charley Hull 2&1.
In the last match, Pedersen was 3 up with three holes to play, but her opponent Danielle Kang fought back to take it to 18. But, in a rematch of the final contest in 2017, it was Pedersen who got the better of the American this time around, burying her birdie putt to seal an outright European victory.
“It was a bit of a fight because after 15, I knew we’d won and just wanted to celebrate with everyone, so I just really had to collect myself. Felt really good to hole that last putt,” Pedersen said. “I was so happy for Matilda. I think all our rookies did so well and Leona just smashing it. It was so crucial for us. I just really had to collect myself on the last three because I could see them and I could hear the ‘olés.’ It was nice to get it done.”