Europe takes controversial 10-6 lead over U.S. going into Solheim Cup singles

ST. LEON-ROT, Germany (AP) Charley Hull and Suzann Pettersen beat Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome 2 up in controversial fashion at the Solheim Cup to give Europe a 10-6 lead over the United States going into Sunday’s singles matches.

The U.S. squad battled back in the afternoon to win the Solheim Cup 14 1/2 to 13 1/2, but the controversy surrounding one putt remains.

Lee missed a short putt for a birdie on the 17th of their resumed fourball match and then picked up her ball under the assumption Europe had conceded – Hull was already walking toward the last hole – only for Pettersen to claim Europe hadn’t conceded the short putt. The umpire intervened and Europe was awarded the hole.

“I missed it but I had just under two feet, like a foot and a half left coming back. And I looked at it and I thought I heard it was good,” Lee said. “To me it looked good. I mean, it was a really short putt, easy putt. And at the same time Charley was walking off the green and Suzann was already off the green so there was no doubt in my mind that that putt was good. I didn’t even think twice about it. So I just picked it up.”

Lincicome said Hull and Pettersen were both heading to the last hole.

“So maybe that’s why Alison thought she heard them say it was good, because their backs were almost to us and they were kind of walking away. And then she just picked it up because she thought she heard someone say it was good. And they both said, ‘No, we didn’t say it was good.’ I don’t know if it was somebody in the crowd that said it,” Lincicome said. “The putt was a foot. They had given us putts farther than that all day. And Alison just thought she heard it was good.”

Referee Dan Maselli said there was nothing he could do to allow Lee to “put that ball back down and putt.”

“It would have to be something that was uttered by the team, a caddy, one of the helpers, one of the assistant captains, or the captain, other than that. But nothing was said by anybody,” Maselli told NBC’s Golf Channel.

Lee and Lincicome had been 1 up after 15 holes before England’s Hull made a birdie on the 16th to draw the Europeans level.

Hull’s birdie on the 18th sealed Europe’s second win from the fourballs and leaves the Americans at a huge disadvantage before the 12 singles matches.

“It’s just B.S. as far as I’m concerned,” U.S. captain Juli Inkster told NBC. “Everything was going great. I thought it was a great week for women’s golf and to put a damper on that . I mean, there’s no way they could ever justify that. I don’t care what you say, you just don’t do that to your peers.”

The 20-year-old Lee, the only rookie on either team, and the 19-year-old Hull were both in tears after the match.

Europe captain Carin Koch said the ball went too far to concede.

“We all feel bad for Alison. She made a mistake and it’s very unfortunate. We don’t want things like that to happen. She made a mistake in the rules of golf. We had a rules meeting and we clearly stated that you have to concede a putt very clearly and she didn’t go with the rule,” Koch said. “The rules are the rules. You have to follow the rules.”

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