Ciganda Ensures Europe Retain Solheim Cup in Thrilling Fashion
EUROPE retained the Solheim Cup in thrilling fashion with Carlota Ciganda securing the crucial point by beating Nelly Korda 2&1.
The match finished 14-14 but, as holders, Europe will keep the trophy for a further year. It is the first time in Solheim Cup history that Europe have gone three successive matches unbeaten.
It certainly didn’t look that way after the first four matches on Friday morning when Suzann Pettersen’s team trailed 4-0. But they battled their way back into the contest and went into the 12 final-day singles tied at eight-all with the USA.
It was entirely appropriate that Ciganda, a Spaniard, should be the player to keep the trophy in European hands, playing in front of a passionate home gallery at Finca Cortesin. She was the star of the show, going unbeaten throughout and producing some sparkling golf.
Peterson said: "I think it was meant to be. It came down to Carlota in Spain in her own hands. Walking down with her in 16 I said ‘is this how you wanted it? Because it's all in your hands now’ and she was like 'I'm up for it."
"At one point 30 minutes ago we had no clue where it was going, It was coming down to the wire and we knew it.
"We have the best team. I’m so proud of them. They played with their heart. We got off to a rough start, but we don’t look back. The sky is the limit.”
Leona Maguire claimed the opening point for Pettersen's side by brushing aside Rose Zhang 4&3 and vice-captain Anna Nordqvist also won early, only for Team USA to dominate the middle matches to move 13-11 ahead with four matches on the course.
A dramatic Caroline Hedwall comeback against Ally Ewing and Maja Stark's 2&1 win over US Women's Open champion Allisen Corpuz levelled the contest, before a 2&1 victory for Ciganda over Korda took Europe to 14 points to ensure they would retain the trophy.
Emily Pedersen still had an outside chance to snatch outright victory when she battled back from four down to two down against Lexi Thompson in the final match, only for the American to claim a 2&1 win to avoid a third consecutive defeat for Stacy Lewis' side.
Korda, the highest-ranked American golfer in the world, had trailed Ciganda by three after eight holes. But Korda rallied back and tied the match with a par on the 15th. But then on the par-4 16th, Korda pushed a short par putt and missed. Ciganda made her putt and took a one hole lead with two holes left.
On the par-3 17th, Ciganda knocked her tee shot to about two feet. Korda's shot was long and settled on the fringe at the back of the green. Korda nearly made a long birdie putt but settled for par.
Ciganda knocked in her putt and threw down her putter. Her 2 & 1 victory gave the Europeans a 14-13 lead. She was swarmed on the 17th green by her teammates after securing the point that ensured the European team would retain the Solheim Cup for another year.
Ciganda, 33, grew up in Pamplona, Spain. She played collegiately at Arizona State and has won twice on the LPGA Tour and seven times on the Ladies European Tour. The biggest moment of her career came on Sunday. She was the only player to earn four points and go 4-0-0 this week.
"I don't have many feelings right now," Ciganda said. "I'm so happy just to do this for [captain] Suzann [Pettersen] and for Spain. I'm just so proud. I'm just so happy. Everyone here is a family. The Spanish crowd is just amazing."
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