It was a historic day on Aug. 18 at Colorado Golf Club, but it didn't involve a miracle on the greens.
Team Europe retained the Solheim Cup with an 18-10 victory over the United States and won for the first time in seven events played in America. The win marked the first time a team from Europe has won back-to-back Cups and the margin of victory was the largest in the history of the event, which began in 1990.
The United States went into the final day staring at a substantial five-point deficit. The Americans could not pull off a miracle comeback as the Europeans won 7½-4½ in the 12 singles matches played on Aug. 18. There were five singles matches that were halved, the most in history.
“We took it to them and they couldn't answer,” said Europe's Suzann Pettersen who resides in Oslo, Norway.
Pettersen was right. Team Europe played superior golf and putted much better on the quick greens.
“They played some great golf this week and really deserved to win,” said U.S. captain Meg Mallon. “I give credit to them, they played well, had a hole-in-one (Anna Nordqvist on Aug. 17), a chip-in and we just didn't have putts drop for us. The team gave it their all. I love my team.
“This (Solheim Cup) is the greatest show in women's golf. The way we played 16, 17, and 18 is what made the difference. It wasn't for the lack of preparation because we played the golf course quite a bit. So it wasn't like a surprise for us. It was just a matter of dropping putts on those holes and unfortunately it was the Europeans.”
Over the last three holes, the Europeans held a 17-10 edge in holes won.
“We just did not make the putts,” added Mallon. “I saw more putts go over the hole on our side. It wasn't for lack of not having good rolls. We just didn't make them. With such a young team (six European Solheim rookies) with nothing to lose, it just seemed like they were a bit looser, they were making more putts and we were not. And that's what it came down to.”
The Europeans wrapped up their second consecutive Cup victory on the 18th hole in the fifth singles match when Caroline Hedwall, a captain's pick from Sweden who won a crucial half point to secure Team Europe's victory over the United States two years ago in Ireland, once again delivered the clinching blow. She defeated Michelle Wie, 1 up, after coming back from a 56-minute lightning delay, with a 4½-foot birdie on the final hole.
There were still seven matches left to be completed and all the Americans could do was play for pride.
“I just can't tell you how proud I am of all the players,” said European captain Liselotte Neuman. “They really played well. They just played tremendous golf.”
Hedwall won all five of the matches she played becoming the first player in Solheim Cup to do so in a single tournament.
“I don't know what to say,” said Hedwall, 24. “It's unbelievable. We knew we could win here. I was really pumped up on 17 when they blew the horn (for the lightning delay). I went in and gave a little talk to myself and I went out there and I was just as pumped up as I was before.”
Stacy Lewis and Sweden's Anna Nordqvist had the honors as the first twosome to tee off and wound up halving an up-and-down match.
“I was hitting good putts, they were just lipping out,” said Lewis. “That's golf for you. You have to stay patient, stay positive. I hit a lot of really good shots. I felt fortunate to get a halve.”
Charley Hull, the 17-year-old from Kettering, England, who is the youngest player in Solheim Cup history, picked up a point for Team Europe with a 5-and-4 win over Paula Creamer.
“After the first day, I really got used to the golf course and I just relaxed and made quite a few birdies over the last two days,” said Hull who went 2-1-0 in her Solheim debut. “I really didn't feel nervous. Because this is how I always look at golf, I'm not going to die if I miss it. Just hit it and find it and hit it again.”
Creamer, one of America's top players, didn't have much positive to say.
“I just didn't bring it,” she admitted. “The Solheim Cup brings the best and worst out of you.”
Europe's Carlota Ciganda whipped Morgan Pressel, 4 and 2, to set the stage for Hedwall's decisive win.
Team USA trailed the Europeans the entire three days of the competition, falling behind 5-3 after Foursomes and Four-ball on the opening day. The Americans closed to within 6½-5½ after the Foursomes Aug. 17, but disaster struck when the Europeans swept all four best-ball matches in the afternoon.
The U.S. played well at times but not good enough. The Europeans made most of the big shots and big putts. The Americans had myriad putts roll inches past the cup or lip out.
“Obviously, yesterday (Aug. 17) afternoon hurt us a lot,” said Lewis. “They holed putts when they needed to and hit the shots. There's always pressure to win, whether we won it two years ago, whether we didn't, whether we're home, whether we are away. They're (Europeans) getting better every year and they're making this (Solheim Cup) what it should be. It's good for the event.”
The U.S. still leads the Solheim Cup all-time standings, 8-5, with the 2015 Solheim Cup scheduled to be played in St. Leon-Rot, Germany.
“We have two years to get ready for Germany and we're going to get that Cup back,” said Wie.