PARKER, Colo. (AP) — The drama for Stacy Lewis was about the golf Saturday, not the rules.
The day after a rules debacle left her standing on the 15th green for more than 25 minutes, America’s highest-ranked player finally got on the board at the Solheim Cup, teaming with Paula Creamer for a back-and-forth, 1-up victory over Azahara Munoz and Karin Icher.
“We had a blast today,” said Lewis, the Women’s British Open champion who is ranked second in the world.
It was a tense match, filled with huge momentum shifts and, ultimately, a gift from the Europeans.
Heading into Saturday afternoon’s matches, Europe led 6½-5½.
PHOTO GALLERY: Solheim Cup At Colorado Golf Club
Tied on the 18th hole of the morning’s alternate-shot match, Lewis put Creamer in trouble when she smothered her approach shot into trees to the left of the green. But Icher hit an even worse shot, thinning her third shot out of a fairway bunker and lodging the ball inside a yucca plant in front of the sand.
Creamer successfully hit the third shot out of trouble. After a drop and a bad pitch, the Europeans were lying 6 and conceded the hole and the match. The United States got the victory — Lewis’ first in three tries this week — after squandering a 4-up lead after 10 holes.
Munoz and Icher made three birdies and a par to win four straight holes and tie the match heading to the 15th tee box, which is where the drama began for Lewis the day before.
“I was just hoping we weren’t going to spend 27 minutes on the green again,” she said. “So, the fact that we got out of there pretty quick was nice.”
Lewis hit the wedge to 8 feet and Creamer converted the birdie to put the Americans ahead again.
Quite a different scene from Friday, when rules officials took nearly a half-hour to decide where Carlota Ciganda should drop after she hit her ball in a hazard fronting the green. Ciganda ended up getting up and down for par to halve the hole and Europe went on to defeat Lewis and Lexi Thompson 1 up. Officials later acknowledged they had made an incorrect ruling, but couldn’t change the result.
Lewis reiterated her frustration with the scenario, especially the long wait that sapped her momentum and that of the American team behind her, which also lost.
“When you have to sit there and just stand around and stand around, it’s hard to hit a putt or shot or anything,” Lewis said. “It just throws you out of your rhythm. And golf is a lot of rhythm and momentum, and especially in match play. So, it definitely had an effect.”
ACE IN PLACE: It’s no overstatement to say Anna Nordqvist finished with a bang.
The Swede slammed a 7-iron off the flagpole and into the cup for an ace on the par-3 17th hole to put a sudden end to her match against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda.
The hole-in-one gave Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall a 2-and-1 victory and was good for Europe’s only win in the morning alternate-shot matches.
“It’s definitely one of the highlights of my career,” Nordqvist said. “It’s not many times you can actually hole out to win the match.”
Among the few times it’s happened in these match-play events was at the Ryder Cup in 2006, when Paul Casey aced the 14th hole to close out a win over Dustin Johnson and Stewart Cink.
For Pressel, however, the memories might have come from her last big tournament in the Denver area — the 2005 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Back then, she covered her head with her hands in dismay in the 18th fairway as Birdie Kim holed out from a greenside bunker to end Pressel’s hopes for a playoff. This time, Pressel was standing on the tee box when she saw her chance at victory slip away.
“Are you kidding me?” she said, as she watched the ball go in.
Nordqvist figures she’ll be buying some drinks to celebrate this one.
“I guess it might be pretty expensive for me, a lot of people are watching,” she said. “But it’s one of the moments that I’m really going to remember for a long time.”
– By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
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