Solheim Cup MVPs, biggest surprises, player results from Europe-USA thriller
Caroline Hedwall began this week’s Solheim Cup as a controversial captain’s pick. Then she sat the first three sessions. She played some spirited golf in a Saturday fourball — but it was in a losing effort. When she arrived at the 13th tee 3 down on Sunday, it felt as though she’d leave the week with nothing to show for it.
But then Hedwall birdied the 13th. She birdied the 14th. She parred the 15th. And on the next two holes she buried two of the more spectacular match-play putts you’ll ever see.
When two mighty lashes got her to the middle of the par-5 18th in two shots, it was all but over. Hedwall didn’t even have to putt out. She’d secured a point. And that point flipped Team Europe’s fortunes.
A couple groups behind Hedwall, Ciganda hit a cold shank on her approach into the 15th green. It was a costly error at an inopportune moment; she lost the hole to fall back to tied with opponent Nelly Korda. How would Spain’s local hero respond?
Quite well, thanks. Ciganda stuffed her approach shot to the par-4 16th, setting up a kick-in birdie. Then she hit it even closer on the par-3 17th, sending the surrounding crowd delirious. She’d deliver the final blow from there, knocking in a two-footer for birdie to retain the Cup for Europe.
Before we go further we should point out that “retaining” the cup is rather different from winning it outright. Ciganda’s 2 and 1 victory gave Europe its 14th point. A short while later Lexi Thompson earned the U.S. team its 14th point, too. Why does Europe get the Cup? In short, because they won it last time. There’s no crazy playoff; tie just goes to the previous winner. Europe win-ties.
Friday foursomes: USA wins 4-0
Friday fourball: Europe wins 3-1
Saturday foursomes: Tied 2-2
Saturday fourball: Europe wins 3-1
The match was tied 8-8 heading to the final session. Here’s how that went down:
Sunday singles: Tied 6-6
Megan Khang wins 1 up over Linn Grant
Leona Maguire wins 4 and 3 over Rose Zhang
Danielle Kang wins 4 and 2 over Charley Hull
Anna Nordqvist wins 2 and 1 over Jennifer Kupcho
Andrea Lee ties with Georgia Hall
Cheyenne Knight ties Gemma Dryburgh
Angel Yin wins 2 and 1 over Celine Boutier
Caroline Hedwall wins 2 up over Ally Ewing
Lilia Vu wins 4 and 3 over Madelene Sagstrom
Maja Stark wins 2 and 1 over Allisen Corpuz
Carlota Ciganda wins 2 and 1 over Nelly Korda
Lexi Thompson wins 2 and 1 over Emily Pedersen
Europe retains Solheim Cup 14-14
Most Valuable Golfer(s)
Every golfer serves a slightly different role on these teams, so it’s tough to pick just one. But this week it was pretty easy.
Team Europe leaned on its stars, Leona Maguire and Linn Grant, who each went 3-2-0 on the week. Emily Pedersen and Maja Stark earned 2.5 points each. And they got that stirring, starring performance from Hedwall.
But there was nobody equal to Carlota Ciganda. She was the heartbeat of the team from the very first session, when she didn’t play but was first on the tee to fire up the crowd. Once she actually teed it up, she proved unbeatable: Ciganda did not trail a single time in four matches en route to a 4-0-0 week. Her perfect match-play record made for a perfect story — with the perfect ending.
On the U.S. side the credit belongs to the two women who went off in the first group of the first session on Friday. Lexi Thompson arrived at the Solheim nearing the end of a long, tough season but was entrusted to hit the opening tee shot of the entire event. She and partner Megan Khang won that match.
On Sunday it was Khang who went out first for the U.S. team — and Thompson who went out last. Khang took down red-hot Linn Grant, who’d won three matches in a row. Thompson quickly fell 2 down to Emily Pedersen but that didn’t last long; by midway through the back nine she flipped that deficit into a massive lead.
Khang finished the week 3-0-1, earning a team-high 3.5 points. Thompson was just behind her, earning 3 points with a 3-1 record.
Ciganda’s putt to clinch the Cup for the Europeans was just three feet.
Biggest surprises (happy division)
Cheyenne Knight stood out as a particularly bright light; she played just three sessions but won 2.5 points, including a hard-fought tie in Sunday singles.
For Europe, Hedwall’s charge was a thrilling surprise. So was the play of fellow captain’s pick Pedersen, who played all five matches and earned a respectable 2-2-1 record. And Gemma Dryburgh rose to the occasion in limited action; she was the only player who didn’t record a win or a loss, playing to a tie in her fourball match and her singles match, too.
Biggest surprises (unhappy division)
Anything can happen on a given golfing weekend, especially in match play — but it was still surprising to see the top-ranked player on each side (Lilia Vu for the U.S., Celine Boutier for Europe) combine to go 1-6-0. It was surprising to see Rose Zhang play just three matches, too, and look a bit out of sorts in the process, earning just a half point. In fairness, her Sunday singles match came against Leona Maguire, whose victory felt predestined.
FINAL PLAYER RECORDS, POINT TOTALS
Carlota Ciganda 4-0-0 (4 points)
Leona Maguire 3-2-0 (3)
Linn Grant 3-2-0 (3)
Maja Stark 2-1-1 (2.5)
Emily Pedersen 2-2-1 (2.5)
Madelene Sagstrom 1-1-1 (1.5)
Georgia Hall 1-2-1 (1.5)
Caroline Hedwall 1-1-0 (1)
Gemma Dryburgh 0-0-2 (1)
Charley Hull 1-2-0 (1)
Anna Nordqvist 1-3-0 (1)
Celine Boutier 0-3-0 (0)
Megan Khang 3-0-1 (3.5 points)
Lexi Thompson 3-1-0 (3)
Cheyenne Knight 2-0-1 (2.5)
Allisen Corpuz 2-1-1 (2.5)
Angel Yin 2-1-0 (2)
Nelly Korda 2-2-0 (2)
Danielle Kang 2-2-0 (2)
Andrea Lee 1-2-1 (1.5)
Ally Ewing 1-3-0 (1)
Lilia Vu 1-3-0 (1)
Rose Zhang 0-2-1 (0.5)
Jennifer Kupcho 0-2-1 (0.5)