by Nancy Berkley.
Congratulations to Juli Inkster and to Team USA.
I sat in the media center trying to figure out the numbers. Team Europe could win four singles matches or it could tie eight of the singles matches – or a combination of wins and ties – and keep the Cup for another year. Team USA could play their best golf and win or tie enough matches to win. But, it would very unlikely for Team USA to pull that victory off.
But that is exactly what Team USA did do. And it was the last putt of the last hole by Paula Creamer, a controversial Captain’s Pick. There’s more to the Team USA victory, which will be in my final On-site report. Here’s one of my favorite Inkster quotes: “I was on them all week, you have to play with a lot of heart, with fire in your belly; You never give up.”
It’s now late morning and the singles matches are beginning. Europe only needs 4 more points to win – for a total of 14 Overall points. And Team USA needs 8 and ½ points to win – very strong playing would be needed. A match that ends “all square” only earns one-half point for each Team.
Here’s how the Captains lined up their players for the singles – not knowing in advance who their players would be playing: Order of players below is Europe vs USA. I’ve looked at this list for a while and haven’t come up with Juli Inkster’s theory but hoping she shares it with us.
Match 1 Ciganda vs Thompson
Match 2 Matthew vs Pressel
Match 3 Icher vs Lincicome
Match 4 Reid vs Lang
Match 5 Nocera vs Lee
Match 6 Masson vs Piller
Match 7 Nordqvist vs Lewis
Match 8 Munoz vs Salas
Match 9 Pettersen vs Stanford
Match 10 Hull vs Kerr
Match 11 Hedwall vs Wie
Match 12 Gal vs Creamer
It’s Sunday morning, last day of the Solheim Cup 2015 Competition and 12 women from Team Europe will play against 12 women from Team USA in singles matches. (All of the previous four matches were team formats – two players vs two players). BUT before the singles matches began, the three fourball matches from the previous day – that had been postponed due to darkness – had to be completed.
The results of the morning’s continued fourballs created significant controversy. Briefly, Alison Lee (playing with partner Brittany Lincicome) believing that her putt had been conceded by opponents Suzanne Pettersen and Charley Hull, picked up her ball – which a player is allowed to do in match play if a putt is conceded. (Had Lee made her first putt, that would have made them one-up in the match – so it was an important putt.) Ooops!! Although when you watch the video of the putting green scene, it’s very clear that after Lee missed her first long putt, Pettersen and Hull and their caddies all turned around and walked away.
Although it seems common sense, that IF the putt had not been conceded, Pettersen and Lee would have hung around to make sure Lee made it. (The putt was about 15 inches on a flat portion of the green.) Pettersen then denied that she or her partner had conceded the putt. A rules official was called in determined that the putt had not been conceded. The penalty in match play for picking up a ball (not conceded putt) is the loss of the hole. That put the match back to “all square.” Lots of opinions are rolling out on the internet about the unsportsmen-like behavior of Pettersen. Alison thought she heard that she was given the putt, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Ooops!! Not in the Solheim Cup.
The three delayed Saturday Fourball matches resulted in a final Overall Score of 10 points for Team Europe to 6 points for Team USA.
Sunday, September 20th, the third and final day of the 2015 Solheim Cup Matches at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club about 30 minutes south of Heidelberg.
As mentioned in my Saturday morning update, today’s matches would set the stakes for the final matches tomorrow on Sunday. After Team Europe won 3 matches in this morning’s Foursomes (Alternate-Shot matches), the “Overall” teams score was Team Europe at 8 and Team USA at 4. If the members of Team USA couldn’t show some strength in the afternoon Foursomes (Better-ball matches), a fair assumption would be that Team Europe would easily win the 2015 Solheim Cup with victories in just half of Sunday’s single matches.
But, that’s not how Saturday’s matches ended. Captain Inkster – sticking with what appears to be the “pod” system (more about that below) – made some changes in a couple of pairings and gave some players the afternoon off. The result was that Team USA looked stronger and played more competitively in the afternoon.
However, only one of the Fourball matches finished before darkness set in. Lexi Thompson and Kristi Kerr won their match on the 16th hole (3&2) – moving the Overall Score to 8 to 5 in favor of Team Europe. The three remaining matches are close with Team USA up-1 on two matches with three holes left to play. And a remaining match through hole 15 with Team Europe up-1.
The delayed afternoon Fourballs will be continued early Sunday morning. Even if Team Europe wins those matches, the Team USA pairings are looking better. Inkster’s pod system is based on establishing “compatible” players. Her twelve players have been divided into three pods with the assumption that the players in each pod “fit” each other’s personality and skills. Here are the pods as Inkster described them a few days ago:
Group 1 – Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas, Brittany Lang and Gerina Piller;
Group 2 – Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson;
Group 3 – Michelle Wie, Angela Stanford, Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome.
A look at Team USA afternoon twosomes confirms that Team USA may have finally found it’s pairings. Of course, Sunday’s matches are singles – perhaps the pairings have come too late. But in match play, confidence and momentum are key drivers in staying focused on every stroke. So, Sunday will be very interesting! At this time Saturday evening, the players in the single matches have not been announced.
Saturday afternoon, September 19th, the second day of the 2015 Solheim Cup Matches at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club about 30 minutes south of Heidelberg.
Today is an important day at the Solheim Cup. If team scores are close at the end of Saturday matches, tomorrow’s single matches will be high drama. To win The Solheim Cup, Team USA has to collect 14.5 points in total while the defending team (Europe) will retain The Solheim Cup title with a total of 14 points.
Fourballs (local time)
2:00 p.m. Lexi Thompson/Cristie Kerr vs. Azahara Munoz/Carlota Ciganda
2:15 p.m. Lizette Salas/Brittany Lang vs. Karine Icher/Catriona Matthew
2:30 p.m. Alison Lee/Brittany Lincicome vs. Suzann Pettersen/Charley Hull
2:45 p.m. Stacy Lewis/Gerina Piller vs. Caroline Masson/Caroline Hedwall
Foursomes (local time)
Saturday morning’s schedule:
9:15 a.m. Alison Lee/Michelle Wie vs. Melissa Reid/Carlota Ciganda
9:30 a.m. Paula Creamer/Morgan Pressel vs. Charley Hull/Suzann Pettersen
9:45 a.m. Angela Stanford/Brittany Lincicome vs. Sandra Gal/Catriona Matthew
10:00 a.m. Stacy Lewis/Gerina Piller vs. Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall
Saturday, September 19th, the second day of the 2015 Solheim Cup Matches at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club about 30 minutes south of Heidelberg.
The first matches in the morning were played and completed without any disputes. There were four Alternate-Shot (also called a Foursome format) matches in the morning. Team USA and Team Europe each won two matches earning two “Overall” points for each Team. Complete details about the matches may be found on www.lpga.com and www.solheimcup.com.
But problems in the afternoon matches. The afternoon Fourball matches (a “better-ball” team format) started promptly at 1:00. Pressel and Creamer, who had partnered in the morning so well against Anna Nordqvist and Suzanne Petersen, did not do as well in the afternoon (against Nordqvist again) and lost to Team Europe. The second match also resulted in a loss for Team USA. Two more points earned for Team Europe!
Then the rain started and the course was cleared because of lightning. The storm clouds were very visible. Play resumed about an hour later, but by then dusk and darkness had set in. The third match: Christie Kerr and Lexi Thompson (Team USA) against Melissa Reid and Carlotta Ciganda (Team Europe) was postponed because of darkness after the 17th hole. The final and last afternoon match between Team USA Piller and Lang against Team Europe Masson and Gal was also postponed. There are already some comments about whether Team USA should have requested that play be stopped on the 17th. My opinion doesn’t matter at all, but I agree that postponement due to darkness was a reasonable decision – it was dark!. Both Friday afternoon matches will be completed Saturday morning, but it is not clear whether the Saturday morning matches will be delayed. Update to follow – stay tuned!
And just a couple more items of interest: All of the players on Team Europe are members of the LPGA. It’s not as if the players on Team Europe and Team USA are strangers — in fact some are friends. Several of the Team Europe players, although born in a European country, now have homes in the U.S. Even more interesting is that five of the twelve players on Team Europe attended a United States college — especially one with a good golf team. In contrast, none of the Team USA players are members of the Ladies European Tour (the LET).
Friday, September 18th, the first day of the 2015 Solheim Cup Matches at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club about 30 minutes south of Heidelberg.
8:00am Pressel/Creamer vs Nordqvist/Pettersen
8:15 am Wie/Lincicome vs Hull/Reid
8:30 am Kerr/Thompson vs Icher/Munoz
8:45 am Lewis/Salas vs Gal/Matthew
This is also referred to as an “Alternate Shot” format, which I think describes it better. On each team, one player will tee off on the even-numbered holes and her partner will tee off on the odd-numbered holes. After the tee shot, her partner plays the next shot, and then the player who tee-ed off plays the third shot – alternating until the ball is in the cup – counting all shots by both players. The two-some with the lowest score on 18 holes wins the match – or ties it. The Alternate-shot format requires particularly good communication between the players. If a player’s partner likes downhill chips or uphill putts, for example, the player hitting the ball will take that into consideration in trying to place the shot where her partner wants it. Of course, even the best players can’t always hit that perfect shot. In watching this format, it is key to notice how the partners are communicating and relating to each other. [A helpful article is “How to Coach Players for Match Play“]
There will be much analysis of the Captain’s choices for these pairings. See the LPGA website for a fair analysis of why the Captains selected these teams.
Eight players from each Team are playing in this morning match. And at least four of them must play again in the Friday afternoon matches which are “better ball” matches in which each player plays her own ball – from the tee into the cup. And then some players will play again on Saturday and all of the players must play on Sunday in individual matches. Fitness and endurance are important assets for the Solheim Cup. Alison Lee of Team USA is recovering from the flu and hopefully will be in fine shape for Sunday’s individual matches.
If you live in the U.S., the Golf Channel is offering not only good TV coverage but streaming as well.
In spite of the steady rain this Thursday morning and reroutes of bus shuttles to the course, golf fans continued to arrive at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in hopes of seeing the Solheim Cup teams practicing on the course and range. The first matches begin on Friday and the weather forecast looks brighter. But the course and the greens will be wet challenging fairway shots and birdie putts. And one thing we know for sure, Team USA will not use today’s down times to paint their fingernails! In a press conference yesterday, Inkster made it clear that she wants her team to play their “regular” game in their “regular” way — implying also with their “regular” nails.
Thursday, September 17th
Nancy Berkley is an expert on women’s golf and junior-girls golf in the U.S. A special interest of hers is encouraging business women to enjoy golf with colleagues and clients. Nancy is a member of the World Golf Foundation Women’s Committee, and a member of the National Golf Foundation. Nancy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Harvard University, Rutgers Law School and has a degree from the Professional Management Program of Harvard Business School.
Describing herself as a good bogey golfer with permanent potential Nancy’s message to women is “Be Happy, Be Healthy, Live Longer, Play Golf.” She shares news about women’s golf – along with her opinions on www.berkleygolfconsulting and www.nancyberkley.com.