Suzann Pettersen has apologised for any wrongdoing after receiving substantial critism for her actions during the Solheim Cup at Golf Club St Leon-Rot yesterday.
Pettersen who held steadfast to her decision to claim the 17th hole during the completion of Saturday afternoon foursomes after Alison Lee picked up her putt before it was conceded during her press conference yesterday evening, has this morning issued an apology through social media.
"I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself. I feel like I let my team down. I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game."
Following the incident the United States would secure arguably the greatest comeback in Solheim Cup history when they won 8-and-a-half out of a possible 12 in yesterday’s singles to clinch victory by a single point. Nonetheless whilst the standard of play at Golf Club St Leon- Rot was remarkably high, the American’s incredible feat has been largely overshadowed by the controversial decision of Suzann Pettersen.
With the match between the European pairing of Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull and the American pairing of Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome level with two holes to play, and with the Europeans holding a three point advantage in the overall match, it appeared that the match was pivotal to deciding the overall fate of the cup. But here things turned sour. With both European players in for par, 20-year old rookie Alison Lee was left with 10 foot for birdie and to win the hole. As the putt slid by both European players began to walk to the first tee appearing to indicate that the putt was good and Lee scooped up the 2 foot putt of which she had left herself. In a move that appeared entirely led by Pettersen, Europe then claimed the hole on the grounds that Lee had taken the ball away before it had been conceded.
The move, whilst in accordance with the rulebook, left both sides visibly shaken with Hull and Lee rendered to tears following the conclusion of the match, which would ultimately be won by the Europeans. Dame Laura Davies labelled the incident disgusting, whilst social media was ablaze by indignation felt by people from both sides of the Atlantic who questioned whether the Norwegian’s exploit went against the spirit of the game.
At lunch time with the Europeans taking a four point advantage into the foursomes it appeared that the win had taken any hope of victory out of the American’s reach. What nobody had reckoned with was the inspired performance of Juli Inkster’s team who produced a birdie blitz to sweep aside a European side who had been within touching distance of creating history only hours before. As the crowds who had been verging on raucous when the singles matches commenced were rendered silent by the American display, many couldn’t help but wonder whether this morning’s antics had fuelled the fire for the team’s brilliance. The American team certainly thought so.
‘We were already fired up’ said world number three Stacy Lewis, ‘But this just gave us the edge we needed.’ The rest of the team concurred attributing their protectiveness towards the young rookie as adding additional potency in their quest for victory.
The European’s in contrast were dismissive of the events impact. When Women & Golf questioned Charley Hull about the incident she rejected its relevance, citing the American’s outstanding performance as the sole reason for Europe’s defeat. ‘I was walking to ask Suzann about the putt,’ said the Englishwomen who had been blown aside by an inspired performance by Christie Kerr. ‘They just played better than we did this afternoon. That’s it.’
In what should have been the ultimate showcase of women’s golf, this year’s addition of the biennial event will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Characterised by slow play, disagreements between captains and Pettersen’s antics, it must be questioned whether the sport has missed its opportunity to showcase itself to the world. With the standard of the game at an all time high and which huge German crowds in attendance, the occasion was undoubtedly a fantastic spectacle. But in a tournament that prides itself on a mantra of friendly rivalry, those who have espouse the fundamental principles of the game will inevitably go away from a tournament feeling that at times these principles had been overlooked. Nonetheless for all the critiscm she has recieved it must be remembered that Petterson did nothing fundamentally wrong and Lee's mistake, whilst an innocent one, was wrong in accordance with the rules of golf. Furthermore it must not be forgotten that the golf produced by the American team yesterday afternoon was outstanding and highlights the talent and skill of those presiding at the apex of our game.
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