By DOUG FERGUSON
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PARKER, Colo. —
Europe took an important step Friday toward winning the Solheim Cup on American soil.
Carlota Ciganda of Spain salvaged an unlikely par from a hazard on the par-5 15th hole and kept her and Suzann Pettersen from falling behind. Pettersen won the next hole with a birdie, sending them to a 1-up victory in a pivotal fourballs match that staked Europe to a 5-3 lead.
A long day at Colorado Golf Club ended with Stacy Lewis, on the losing end of that match, getting into a heated discussion with an official over the use of a laser by the official to determine the right drop. At one point, Lewis threw her hands in the air.
It was a tough day for the Women’s British Open champion.
Lewis struggled with the pace of lightning fast greens on the front nine as she and Lizette Salas fell too far behind to catch up in morning foursomes. Lewis played with another U.S. rookie, Lexi Thompson, who twice squandered good birdie chances late in the fourballs.
Lewis is 1-5 in the Solheim Cup.
Pettersen and Carolina Hedwall led the European charge by winning both their matches. Pettersen, playing in her seventh Solheim Cup, drilled a fairway metal into 20 feet on the 16th hole that set up Beatriz Recari for the eagle putt to take charge in a foursomes match. In the afternoon, it was Pettersen’s 7-foot birdie putt on the 16th — after Thompson three-putted for par — that gave Europe the lead.
Hedwall was part of what European captain Liselotte Neumann called her “Swedish Vikings” to lead off the warm, sunny opening session south of Denver. Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist finished the front nine with two birdies to build a 3-up lead, and they never let Lewis and Salas any closer.
Angela Stanford’s overall record dropped to 3-9-3 as she lost both her matches — with Brittany Lang in the morning and with rookie Gerina Piller in the afternoon.
The day was not a total loss for Meg Mallon’s squad.
She was scrutinized for taking Michelle Wie as a captain’s pick. Wie’s superb short game combined with Cristie Kerr making big putts early as they disposed of Catriona Matthew and 17-year-old Charley Hull, 2 and 1, in the final match. The Americans picked up another point in the afternoon behind Lang and Lincicome, with Lang holing a bunker shot on the 14th hole to give her side control of the match.
In the morning, the lone American point came from Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda, a 20-year-old rookie who had a most unusual start.
Korda described the opening tee shot as “very scary,” and the rest of the first hole as simply surreal.
After a breakfast of milk and cereal, she was munching on a banana down the first fairway when she became nauseous. She walked over to the side of the fairway and threw up, news that spread quickly across the expansive course and gave her teammates a moment of levity.
“After I got past the first hole, I was pretty OK,” said Korda, whose 7-foot par putt to halve the 16th hole clinched the match.