On a scintillating afternoon of golf at Des Moines Golf and Country Club a European comeback was stopped in its tracks, as America fired birdie after birdie to take a 5-point lead into the final day of the Solheim Cup.
Having shared the honours in the morning, the Europeans needed a dominate fourballs performance if they were to narrow the gap, but despite carding birdies galore, were unable to deal with an infallible American squad, who matched every blow made with a counterpunch of their own.
The session started well for Annika Sorenstam's squad, when European duo Anna Nordqvist and Jodi Ewart Shadoff defeated Lizette Salas and Angel Yin 4&2, but with the other three matches going in the direction of the home team, they will now need to pull off the biggest comeback in the tournament's history if they are to regain the trophy.
Brittany Lang and Brittany Linciome combined to shoot 12 under in their 2-up win over Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid, who hung right in with the Americans with a 10-under round of their own only to be beaten by a birdie on the 18th green.
Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst defeated Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom, 2 and 1.
“You have to make birdies in match play,” said Creamer. “And this golf course, it’s good to be aggressive. But you can’t be overly aggressive, just because of where some of the pin placements are. But when your partner’s playing well, it makes you feel good.”
The fourth match of the afternoon was another close affair, but ultimately Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson defeated Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew 4&2.
The American duo started strong with victories on two of the first three holes before the Europeans got one back with an eagle from Hall at No. 4.
The Americans pushed their advantage back to two with a Thompson birdie on No. 6, a lead they held until the 10th, when Matthew snuck a birdie in on the left side. Thompson quickly answered with a birdie of her own on No. 11 to extend the lead.
After an extraordinary stretch saw both sides matching clutch putts from holes 11-13, Team USA went dormie when Kerr holed out a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 15th, sending the crowds into a frenzy. When Matthew and Hall narrowly missed birdie putts on the 16th, the duo conceded a birdie to Thompson to wrap up the match.
The five-point difference ties the largest margin going into the last day with 1998 and 2000, when the USA and Europe led respectively before going on to achieve victory.
The singles times for Sunday have been brought forward two hours due to the threat of storms.
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