By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 13/09/19 1:52pm
Europe made a positive start to the 16th Solheim Cup as they edged Team USA in the opening foursomes session at Gleneagles.
Jessica and Nelly Korda, the first sisters to play with each other in the competition, produced an outstanding performance to crush Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson 6&4 in match three, but that proved the lone win for the holders as Europe headed into the afternoon fourballs with a 2.5-1.5 advantage.
Bronte Law’s first taste of Solheim Cup action resulted in a battling half with Carlota Ciganda in the top match against Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex, before Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier put the first blue on the board with a 2&1 win over Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare – Thompson’s first defeat in the event since 2013.
Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz rounded off an encouraging morning for Catriona Matthew’s team with a hard-fought victory over Megan Kang and Annie Park in the anchor match, ensuring a repeat scoreline from the last contest two years ago.
However, Matthew will be determined to avoid a repeat of the disastrous whitewash in the afternoon fourballs session in Iowa which ignited Team USA’s run to a second straight win.
Matthew did spring a surprise with her afternoon line-up when she rested Hall and ensured that all 12 of her players would see some action on the first day, while Inkster also selected the four players that sat out the foursomes, although she also separated the jubilant Korda sisters.
Suzann Pettersen, seen by many as a controversial captain’s pick due to her lack of competitive golf over the last two years, led Europe’s charge alongside Dutch rookie Anne Van Dam against Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas.
Swedish stalwarts Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall were paired together against Angel Yin and Ally McDonald, who was a late call-up for the injured Stacy Lewis.
Hull and Munoz hoped to continue their winning partnership against Nelly Korda and Altomare in the third match, with Ciganda and Law switching from first match to last as they took on Jessica Korda and Thompson.
Law and Ciganda got off to a great start as a par was enough to win the opening hole when Pressel and Alex needed three to get down from the fringe, and another American bogey at the fourth took Europe two up.
But the match swung when Pressel drained a lengthy birdie putt on the fifth green and some ragged golf from the home pair over the next two holes led to bogeys and they were suddenly one down.
However, they restored parity at the next, although the Americans edged ahead again with a birdie at the 14th before Ciganda rolled in a superb putt for a crucial two at the short 17th which Alex could not match, and a scrappy final hole was halved in pars as the top match ended all square.
Thompson’s proud unbeaten record since 2013 looked set to continue when the visitors gained an early lead over Hall and Boutier at the third, but Thompson and Altomare bogeyed the next before the Europeans moved ahead with a birdie at five.
The American pair got into more trouble on the seventh and slipped two down, and they did well to escape with a half in par at the long ninth despite Thompson blocking her second into water, but they were soon three down when Boutier holed a superb 30-footer for birdie from the rear fringe at the 10th.
A bogey five was enough to take Europe four ahead at the 12th and, although the Americans won 14 and 16 to extend the match, Hall and Boutier closed out an impressive victory when Thompson and Altomare were unable to birdie the 17th.
Jessica and Nelly Korda had to persuade Juli Inkster to pair the sisters together when the captain had reservations, but it proved an inspired move as they romped to a one-sided 6&4 win over Masson and Ewart Shadoff.
The Kordas made their intentions clear with birdies for wins on the first two holes and, with the European pair struggling for rhythm, pars at the fourth and fifth were good enough to take the Americans four up.
Ewart Shadoff then raced a six-foot birdie putt a similar distance past the hole at the seventh and Masson missed the return, but the home pair stopped the rot with a par at the eighth only to make a mess of the long ninth as the Americans turned with a commanding five-up lead.
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Masson holed from 12 feet at the 10th for a brave half after Jessica Korda had chipped in for a two, and the Kordas completed a resounding 6&4 win on the 14th green when Ewart Shadoff’s birdie putt drifted wide of the target.
A par at the first gave Hull and Munoz the early lead which was cancelled out by an American birdie at the second, but Khang and Park struggled for accuracy at the fourth and fifth and gifted the Europeans a two-up lead.
But Hull and Munoz then encountered problems of their own and lost the sixth and eighth holes to par, and the long ninth was then halved in bogey-sixes before Hull and Munoz made their first birdie of the match at the 13th to edge beck ahead.
The next three holes were halved in pars, and a solid three at the 17th proved enough to score a 2&1 win for Hull and Munoz as Khang and Park failed to save par following a wayward tee shot.
Live Solheim Cup Golf
September 14, 2019, 7:30am