“This is a dream come true”: The best players, shots and moments from the Solheim Cup

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ANDALUSIA, Spain – Captain of the American team Stacy Lewis called it a draw. The European team called it a victory – and celebrated as if they had won something big – after Spain’s Carlota Ciganda defeated US superstar Nelly Korda on Sunday to secure her team’s 14th point.

Regardless of what you call the Europeans’ 14-14 draw against the United States in the 18th Solheim Cup this week at Finca Cortesin, one thing is certain: it is the European team retain the Solheim Cup. As two-time defending champions, Europe needed just 14 points to retain the trophy.

It is the first time that the Solheim Cup ends in a draw.

“Can it get any better?” Captain of the European team Suzann Pettersen said. “I mean, this is a dream come true. We had a huge challenge ahead of us today. We made history again at the Solheim Cup and these girls are legends.”

Lewis wouldn’t say her team lost, even after blowing a 4-0 lead and failing to win the trophy again.

“I don’t want to sound like a sore loser, but it was a draw and I think that’s a lot for this team to build on, especially coming here and in this environment with five freshmen, one very young and … comes an inexperienced team,” Lewis said. “I mean, this week was really, really good for her. I just wanted to tell them how proud I was of them. Luckily we only have to wait another year to get this thing back.”

Because of the quick turnaround – the Solheim Cup is moving to an even year and the next competition is at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia – there’s a good chance most of their players will be back in September 2024. Lewis too and Pettersen remain captains.

“We’re so close,” Lewis said. “So no, we will go through the same process. We’re going back to the drawing board, coming up with some new ideas to make it a little different behind the scenes to keep it fun, but I don’t think it’s going to change much because it’s working this year has. It’s working and we’re moving in the right direction. I’m really excited about the future of this US team.”

Here’s the best of the week from the 18th Solheim Cup:

How Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olzabal And Sergio García Before her, Ciganda became a Spanish sports hero on Sunday when she secured the European team’s equal points.

Ciganda’s tee shot on the par-3 17th hole, which she hit to about 2 feet, will be remembered as perhaps the best of her career. She made a birdie putt to win games 2 and 1. The fans at Finca Cortesin chanted her name as she celebrated with her teammates.

Ciganda grew up in Pamplona and played at Arizona State University. She was the only player from both teams to win four points this week and go 4-0-0.

“I don’t think there’s anything like it,” Ciganda said. “Playing in Spain in front of a home crowd on Spanish soil and seeing my name being sung is really great, very special and just something I won’t forget.”

Best Player (USA): Megan Khang

The 25-year-old Khang seems to be on the right career path. She finished in the top 10 in three of the five majors this season. She picked them up first LPGA Tour victory at the CPKC Women’s Open on August 27, defeating Jin Young Ko in a playoff. It is ranked 14th worldwide.

Khang was a force for the Americans this week. She teamed up with a veteran Lexi Thompson and won both four-way matches (alternative shot). Khang and Ryder Cup rookie Rose Zhang on par with Scotland Gemma Dryburgh and Sweden Madelene Sagstrom in a Friday game with four balls (best ball).

Then on Saturday evening, Lewis asked Khang if she wanted the first match in Sunday singles. Their opponent was Sweden Linn Grant, who played as well as anyone this week. Khang won the match 1:9 and leveled the score at 9:9. Khang took a 3-0-1 lead and scored 3½ points.

“Stacy asked me last night if I wanted to take the first tee time and I said, ‘You got it. Whatever you need from me, I’m ready for it,'” Khang said. “I knew it would be fun and to get birdie the first time to take the lead one by one, that was great. I just wanted to kind of feed the team and lead with some red on the board.”

Best rookie (Europe): Linn Grant

Grant may have been a rookie in the Solheim Cup, but her performance probably came as no surprise to those who followed her on the Ladies European Tour. She has won five LET events since March 2022 and earned her first LPGA Tour victory at the Dana Open in July.

Grant, another former Arizona State player, was one of three European team members who attended each of the five sessions this week. Ireland Leona Maguire and Denmark Emily K. Pedersen were the others.

Grant, ranked 15th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, prevailed 3-2 and collected three points.

On Sunday, Grant became the first player to be eliminated from the European Championships against Khang.

“I think it’s fun,” Grant said. “I think it’s a responsibility. You set a certain pace for the day. I don’t know, you have to go out at some point. But.” [it’s] It’s kind of good to be the first one out, especially after playing all the rounds.”

Best rookie (USA): Allisen Corpuz

There were five rookies on the US team: two-time major champion Lilia VuUS Open winner Corpuz, Zhang, Cheyenne Knight And Andrea Lee.

The first team players had a combined record of 6-9-4. Corpuz and Knight were the only rookies to win two games. Corpuz and Nelly Korda won two four-way matches together, defeating some of Europe’s best players in the process. Corpuz and Jennifer Kupcho halved a four-ball game against Pedersen and Sweden Maya Stark.

On Sunday, Stark handed Corpuz her only loss of the week, 2 and 1 in singles.

Korda and Corpuz are likely to be a regular foursome at future Solheim Cups.

“It was great to see her come out and make some really exciting putts for us,” Korda said. “She may be a newcomer, but I think she has really come through.” [Saturday] and she doesn’t show that at all.”

Hedwall’s game was in such a difficult state that she did not play in any of the first three sessions. If there wasn’t a Solheim Cup rule requiring a player to appear in at least one of the first four sessions to compete in singles, she might not have played at all.

Hedwall was ranked 121st worldwide. She is from Sweden, so Captain Suzann Pettersen knew her very well. Hedwall is a former NCAA Division I individual national champion at Oklahoma State in 2010 and previously played in the Solheim Cup four times.

Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist canceled their four-ball game on Saturday afternoon. Hedwall stayed behind Ally Ewing at 3 with six holes that can be played singles. Then she turned it on and won five of the last six holes. She won the game 2-1 and helped the Europeans get within one point (13-12) of the US team.

“You know, I never give up and I showed that today,” Hedwall said. “I mean, I’m just so proud of myself and, wow, that was awesome.”

Hedwall was the captain’s choice and Pettersen was proud of her style of play.

“I would also like to pay special tribute to Caroline Hedwall [who] “I feel like she had the deciding point,” Pettersen said. She prepared it well for Carlota to take it to the finish on the 16th and 17th.

Best Comeback (USA): Lexi Thompson

There were many concerns about Thompson’s form before the Solheim Cup. She missed the cut in eight of her 11 starts on the LPGA Tour this season. She finished 138th in the circuit’s season points race.

Thompson, a six-time Solheim Cup veteran, has been one of the Americans’ most reliable players this week. U.S. team captain Stacy Lewis took a gamble by eliminating Thompson and Khang first in the foursomes on Friday morning. They set the pace for the US team, defeating Sweden’s Stark and Grant 2-1. Khang and Thompson also defeated Swedes Nordqvist and Maguire with one win each in the foursome on Saturday morning.

Thompson’s only loss this week came in the four-ball (best ball) on Friday when she and Vu fell to Maguire and England Georgia Hall 1 down. Thompson was the last American down the stretch in Sunday’s singles, defeating Pedersen 2 and 1. Thompson scored three points with a record of 3-0-1.

The best of the week

Best celebration: Ciganda enjoyed the moment in front of family and friends.

Recording of the week: Ciganda will never forget her tee shot on No. 17 on Sunday. Nor will any Spaniard who has seen it.

Greatest moment: Pedersen scored the second ace in Solheim Cup history on Friday afternoon, which appeared to give the European team a much-needed boost.

Best putt: Hedwall’s ball ran and ran and ran.

Best family moment: Kang’s mother, Grace Lee, was among the loudest and most active U.S. supporters at Finca Cortesin this week.

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