Row over concession fuels USA’s fightback as they deny Europe

Angela Stanford, who broke a run of nine successive Solheim Cup losses to defeat Suzann Pettersen, holds the trophy aloft during the award ceremony in St Leon-Rot, southern Germany (Picture: Jens Meyer/AP).
Angela Stanford, who broke a run of nine successive Solheim Cup losses to defeat Suzann Pettersen, holds the trophy aloft during the award ceremony in St Leon-Rot, southern Germany (Picture: Jens Meyer/AP).
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The United States turned their fury at a controversial incident into a brilliant fightback to win the Solheim Cup and avoid an unprecedented third straight defeat.

Europe took a 10-6 lead into the final session at St Leon-Rot in Germany, but could only manage three and a half points from the 12 singles to see the trophy slip from their grasp.

Victories from Karine Icher, Melissa Reid and Anna Nordqvist left the home side needing half a point from the remaining five matches, but none of those even made it to the 18th hole.

Charley Hull lost her 100 per cent record to an inspired Cristie Kerr, who fired seven birdies in eight holes after being three down after four, while Caroline Hedwall was thrashed 6&4 by Michelle Wie.

America’s Gerina Piller then holed from 10 feet on the 18th to beat Caroline Masson and keep the match alive, before Angela Stanford amazingly ended a run of nine straight defeats with a 2&1 win over Suzann Pettersen, who had earlier been at the heart of the controversy which left two players in tears.

In the final fourball match carried over from Saturday, Pettersen and Hull were all square with two holes to play against Brittany Lincicome and Alison Lee.

Lee missed a birdie putt to win the 17th and, after the ball finished two feet behind the hole, scooped it up with her putter thinking it either had been, or was certain to be, conceded.

Hull gave that impression as she was already walking across the front of the green towards the 18th tee, but Pettersen said they had not conceded the putt and therefore had won the hole.

European captain Carin Koch approached the match referee on the 18th to ask if there was anything she could do and was told they could concede the hole, but opted not to after Pettersen insisted she was not going to concede Lee’s putt.

Hull, 19, and 20-year-old rookie Lee were reduced to tears as heated discussions took place around the green, with visiting captain Juli Inkster wanting to lead some of her team in a chant of “Europeans suck”, before they opted for “Class, style, U-S-A.”

Asked if it was possible to change the result of the match, Inkster said: “It’s a done deal and you know what, we don’t want it now. I have never seen anything like it in my career.

“It’s just not right. You just don’t do that to your peers. It’s disrespectful.

‘’I saw Charley walking off and Suzann kind of turned her back and then Suzann said she did not give it to her (Lee).”

Commentating for Sky Sports, 12-time Solheim Cup player Dame Laura Davies said she was “disgusted” by Pettersen’s behaviour.

“We have got our best player, Charley Hull, who has just won a point and she is in floods of tears. That tells you the wrong thing was done,” Davies said.

“How Suzann can justify that I will never, ever know. We are all fierce competitors but ultimately it’s unfair.

“We have to play week in, week out together and you do not do something like that to a fellow pro.”

She continued: ‘’I know (Pettersen) is angry and justifying everything, but she has let herself down and she has certainly let her team down. I am so glad I am not on that team this time.

‘’If they win they are going to think, ‘Why did we do that?’ or ‘why did Suzann do that?’’’

Speaking after her side’s comeback was complete thanks to Paula Creamer’s 4&3 win over Germany’s Sandra Gal, Inkster added: “I’m over it now. We’ve got the cup.

“I didn’t have to say anything to them (before the singles), they were all fired up and ready to go out and play.

“On Saturday night I put my line-up together and it fell in perfectly the way I wanted it and the girls just played awesome.

“They never gave up. Everybody did their job and I couldn’t be prouder of those girls.”

European assistant captain Annika Sorenstam said: “The Americans played extraordinary golf in the singles. We pressed really hard to the end but the US just outplayed us.”

Asked if the American players had extra motivation following the controversy, Koch commented: “My players were just as motivated to go out there and win the Solheim Cup for the third time in a row.

“But it’s just the way it goes sometimes, the putts drop or they don’t and that’s the difference.

“It will take a little while for the girls to get over this, they’re all great competitors, but it was pretty quiet in the team room.

“But they should be so proud of themselves, they’ve done everything right this week.

“They played their hearts out and we’ve had so much fun together.

“They played fantastic golf and I’ll just keep telling them that until the smile comes back on their faces.

“I’ll still have fond memories of this week.

“I’ve had so much fun with the team and I really enjoyed being captain.”