HEIDELBERG (AFP) - Europe's Suzann Pettersen has apologised after her refusal to concede a putt left players in tears at the Solheim Cup, the biggest competition in women's golf.
Pettersen had been slammed for her unsporting behaviour on Sunday after she said that a putt on the 17th green had not been conceded when the USA's Alison Lee picked up her ball, meaning the Americans lost the hole.
"I've never felt more gutted and truly sad," said the 34-year-old Norwegian said on social media. "I am sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle."
Pettersen's action was backed by European captain Carin Koch.
"There was a rules meeting at the start of the week and the players knew they had to wait until a putt was conceded," said the Swede. "We play by the rules." But USA captain Juli Inkster thought it was "disrespectful".
Pettersen was playing in the fourballs with Charley Hull against Lee and Brittany Lincicome when the incident took place.
Lee missed her birdie putt and then assumed that her next putt had been given and she picked up her ball. Hull was walking to the next tee, but Pettersen called the referee and pointed out that there had been no concession. That meant the US incurred a penalty stoke and so they lost the hole.
Europe went on to win the point - which would otherwise have gone the Americans' way - and emotions boiled over with both Lee and Hull in tears at the end.
The USA then recovered from 10-6 down to win eight and a half points from 12 singles matches to regain the trophy they last lifted in 2009.
Pettersen added: "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."