Overcoming, or perhaps inspired by, controversy in the morning resumption of play, the U.S. Solheim Cup team completed the biggest comeback in the history of the biennial matches, rallying from down four points to win 14.5-13.5 at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany.
The scheduled Sunday session of 12 singles matches began after a sour finish to the end of a resumed fourball session from Saturday. With the match all square through 16 holes, Alison Lee, teaming with Brittany Lincicome, missed an 8-foot birdie putt to win the 17th hole. The European opponents, Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull, had started walking toward the 18th tee with their caddies. Walking referee Dan Maselli had started to announce the hole had been halved in pars, when Lee scooped up her par putt, swearing she had heard a concession from one of her opponents. She hadn't. Pettersen noticed, calling a penalty on Lee for erroneously giving herself a putt that hadn't been conceded. The Europeans won that hole and the last to set up a 10-6 European edge for the final session.
As we've come to learn, not even a four-point lead is safe in these matches.
The Americans rallied, making 70 birdies between them, in claiming 8.5 out of 12 possible points, winning the Solheim Cup back, ending a two-match losing skid and an eight-year drought on European soil.
However, the Americans could not have completed the comeback were it not for Gerina Piller. The 30-year-old was 1 up in her match against German Caroline Masson, with the Europeans already at 13.5 points. Masson had missed her birdie putt to square the match and lock up the European retention of the cup. Piller needed to sink a 10-foot par putt to secure the full point and keep the American dream alive. As American captain Juli Inkster stared at the ground off the green, unable to muster the nerves to watch, Piller's putt fell in the heart of the cup.
With Americans dominating the other remained matches, the comeback came down to Angela Stanford, who had been winless in her prior nine Solheim Cup matches, in her match against Pettersen. Stanford drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th to take a 2-up edge. A hole later, both she and Pettersen went long into the fringe with their approaches. When Pettersen couldn't make her birdie bid, Stanford cozied up her first putt to the hole, earning a concession from the Norwegian, leaving the U.S. a point shy of the win.
That point was earned by captain's pick Paula Creamer, who struggled all season but was a bright spot for the U.S. all week, including in her singles match against German Sandra Gal. On the par-3 15th, Creamer lagged her birdie putt to gimme range, forcing Gal to make a 17-foot uphill birdie putt to extend the match and preserve a potential tie. When her putt rushed by the hole, the U.S. had won the Solheim Cup in unbelievable fashion.
The comeback from down 10-6 matches what the American Ryder Cup team did in beating the Europeans in 1999 at Brookline, Mass., and the European surge in 2012 at Medinah.