America won its first PING Junior Solheim Cup on foreign soil when it claimed an impressive victory over Europe at St Leon-Rot in Germany.
The visiting side led by the legendary JoAnne Carner went into the final afternoon with a three point lead after winning the foursomes 4 ½ – 1 ½ and they went on to record a 13-11 victory after narrowly losing the singles 6 ½ – 5 ½ against a battling European team.
The win means America has clinched the trophy for the third PING Junior Solheim Cup in-a-row. That run started with a win at the 2009 match at Aurora Country Club in Illinois. It was extended after the visiting team retained the trophy by halving the 2011 match at Knightsbrook Resort Spa & Golf Hotel in Ireland and continued when the Americans scored a decisive victory at Inverness Golf Club in Colorado two years ago.
Sierra Brooks produced America’s first point in the singles when she beat the previously undefeated Olivia Mehaffey by 5 & 4 in the top match. The American was two up at the turn and then won the 11th, 12th and 13th before completing an impressive victory with a par three on the next hole.
The Europeans needed to win eight out of the 12 points available in order to retain their proud record of never having been beaten on home soil. They edged closer to that mark when Mathilda Cappeliez beat Hannah O’Sullivan 6 & 4 but Megan Khang and Angel Yin maintained the visitors’ momentum with victories over Marta Perez Sanmartin and Emma Spitz.
The standard of golf played by both sides was exceptional as was illustrated by Mika Liu who was eight under par when she ended the hopes of local favourite Leonie Harm on the 13th green.
That 6 & 5 victory took the Americans to within one point of victory. Albane Valenzuela prolonged Europe’s hopes when she beat Andrea Lee 2 & 1 but moments later Haley Moore had the distinction of collecting the winning point for America after carding four birdies and ten pars while beating Puk Lyng Thomsen by 5 & 4.
Thereafter Ana Pelaez, Maria Parra, Agathe Laisne and Elin Esborn pulled four points back for the home side in their matches against Hailee Cooper, Nelly Korda, Kaitlyn Papp and Kristen Gillman before the match finished in dramatic fashion when Elin Nordaas holed an 8-iron on the last hole to clinch a halve in her match against Mariel Galdiano.
“I’m proud of my team and the way they played,” said Carner. “You know, I knew they played well, but until I really saw them in action, where they went head-to-head here, I don’t really realize what great players they are. They’re long hitters, but they also have a wonderful touch around the green, both sides. So it was very educational. In fact, I found myself staring at a few setups to see how they’re swinging. I knew I could never get it back like they do, let alone even try to get it the other way. But it’s just fun to watch.”
“I’m so pleased with my girls, and as Joanne said, both teams played really well,” said European captain Iben Tinning. “And what I saw in my girls today was they really played their hearts out and that was a big topic this week. So I’m really proud of them and I thought they fought, everybody, as hard as they could. It’s no disgrace to lose to this US side.
There have been a lot of highlights,” added Tinning. “For me, I think just seeing the girls play, and being in the locker rooms with them, and cheering for them, has just been great. And also being with my vice-captain, Sebastian (Rühl), we had a great time, and I think we really had a good plan to beat the Americans, but not quite good enough.
“Seeing the girls play and play their hearts out was just fantastic today.”
The two PING Junior Solheim Cup teams can now look forward to watching the Solheim Cup teams in action.
“We get to watch on Friday,” said Sierra Brooks.” We’re watching the whole day on Friday, we’re going to be out there early. And then we leave Saturday morning. It’s been great and it’s an experience I will never forget.”
Brooks and Megan Khang were the two most successful players on the American team having claimed three points out of three. Mariel Galdiano was also undefeated after winning her fourball and foursomes match and then having to settle for a half after Nordaas’ wonder-shot at the end of the match.
Albane Valenzuela, Mathilda Cappeliez, Elin Esborn, Emma Spitz and Olivia Mehaffey all earned two points out of three for the European team.