The 5 Most Dramatic Solheim Cup Moments
TEAM golf brings out the very best in people. Representing your country is the ultimate honour. Some players were born to it, while other world-class golfers have admitted that the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup have reduced them to jabbering wrecks.
It also has to be said that team golf can bring out the worst in people.
As Europe prepare to defend the Solheim Cup, and attempt to win it for an unprecedented third successive time, we look at some of the most dramatic moments in the event’s history.
Annika Sorenstam, 2000
The Swede was at the centre of a bitter and unfortunate rules breach at Loch Lomond. Team Europe were three points clear as the competition moved into the fourball portion on Saturday. Sorenstam was playing in the anchor match alongside Janice Moodie against Americans Pat Hurst and Kelly Robbins. On the 13th hole, Sorenstam chipped in for birdie from just off the green, bringing the match back to all square - or so she thought. The Americans deemed Sorenstam to have played out of turn because it was Robbins who was actually further away from the hole. Sorenstam was required to replay her shot. Predictably, she failed to chip in the second time around, and she and Moodie eventually lost the match 2 and 1.
Sorenstam later said: “When people ask me what I wanted to be known for, I always said sportsmanship. When that happened, that was no sportsmanship at all, and that made me upset. It wasn’t about losing the hole or the match. It was more the principle that somebody could do something like that.”
Justice was done as Europe won 14.5-11.5.
Suzann Pettersen, 2019
The Norwegian won 15 times on the LPGA Tour, and seven times on the Ladies European Tour, including two major championships. She was also a stalwart on the Euro Solheim Cup team, with a career record of 18-12-6 in nine appearances. But in 2019 she was a controversial captain’s pick at Gleneagles, having played little competitive golf.
The score was tied at 8-8 heading into Sunday singles. American Danielle Kang lost the opening match while Nelly Korda won the next one. The lead see-sawed between the two teams for the entire afternoon. The US briefly held the upper hand toward the end, but Europe rallied, winning two of the last three matches, until there was only Pettersen’s match against American Marina Alex remaining. The two were all square on the 18th hole.
The score was 13.5 to 13.5, and Pettersen faced a seven-foot left-to-right putt to win the Cup for Europe. She drained it, giving Europe its first Solheim Cup win since 2013. And to top it off, Pettersen announced her retirement from the game shortly after, ending her competitive career on the absolute highest of highs.
American Comeback, 2015
Pettersen was also a major player in 2015 - albeit for less memorable reasons. The 2015 Solheim Cup was played in Germany, at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot. Things were not going well for Team USA as they trailed Europe 10-6 going into the singles. The Americans were livid after what happened during the afternoon four-ball. American Alison Lee was playing with Brittany Lincicome against Pettersen and Charley Hull. The Americans were tied with the Europeans on the 17th hole, and Lee had a putt to win. She missed, and thought she heard her competitors concede her tiny putt. She picked up the ball, but Pettersen said the putt had not been conceded. The Americans lost the match.
Pettersen was criticised for her part in the incident, and she issued an apology the next day. But the perceived injustice lit a fire under the Americans, who rallied to win the 8.5 points they needed in Sunday singles to reclaim the Cup. The final score: 14.5-13.5, good enough for the biggest comeback ever in the Solheim Cup’s 25-year history.
Dottie Pepper, 2007
Oh dear! Dottie Pepper is now a broadcaster and commentator. She was once a top player who competed for the USA in the Solheim Cup. During the 2007 Solheim Cup at Halmstad Golf Club in Sweden, believing she was in the middle of a commercial break, Pepper called the US players “choking, freaking dogs” when they failed to close out a match. Unfortunately for Pepper, her microphone - and the broadcast - was still live. Pepper apologised. Needless to say, when the Americans found out they were pretty upset with Pepper. She later served as an assistant captain to Meg Mallon at the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club.
Michelle Wie, 2013
At the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club, Michelle Wie was lambasted after holing a putt and then heading to the 17th tee before her opponents, Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson, had finished out on the 16th green. West later took to Twitter to apologise. She wrote: “Feel absolutely horrible about running off the green on 16. Got caught up in the moment and was so tired that I forgot what was happening. But that is no excuse for my behavior. Truly sorry. [Partner Jessica] Korda did indeed stay by the green to watch them finish out the hole.” If Wie was frustrated, it would be easy to understand why. She and Korda lost 2 and 1, and the USA were thrashed in the afternoon fourball session, losing all four matches to trail the Europeans by five points heading into Sunday singles. The Europeans eventually prevailed 18-10.
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