Golf: US extend Solheim Cup lead to 5 points

Cristie Kerr of Team USA celebrates holeing the winning putt with Lexi Thompson.
Cristie Kerr of Team USA celebrates holeing the winning putt with Lexi Thompson.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) – The United States extended their Solheim Cup advantage to a commanding five points after an impressive afternoon four-ball session at Des Moines 
Golf and Country Club gave them a 10-1/2 to 5-1/2 lead heading into Sunday’s singles matches.

Cristie Kerr, who had earlier passed American captain Juli Inkster for the most Solheim Cup points for the US with 18, teamed with Lexi Thompson on a decisive 4&2 win over Europe’s Catriona Matthew and Georgia Hall.  

Kerr, 39, helped the cause with a pivotal birdie on the 15th hole that gave her side a 3-up lead with three to play.  Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang birdied their first two holes for an advantage they never relinquished as they topped Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda two-up.  

American duo Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst also captured their match against Karine Icher and Madelene Sagstrom 4&2. Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Anna Nordqvist were the only European side to record a point in the afternoon session.

“Juli did a great job of saying keep it going,” Creamer said of Inkster. “We just stick together and do what we were supposed to do. “But it’s not over yet.”

The American duo of Kerr and Thompson had got the US off to a winning start on Saturday morning, thrashing Carolina Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 5&3, with Europe winning only one hole.

“She putted amazing today, walked in so many putts,” Thompson said of her partner Kerr. “I just gave her the opportunities and she was just rolling the ball.”

The US won the second match by the same lopsided margin as Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst outplayed Mel Reid and Emily Pedersen.  Creamer also reached a milestone, passing Inkster as the all-time American points winner in foursomes matches with 8.5 points.  

With the Cup slipping away, Europe grabbed a lifeline by winning the final two matches, both by 2&1 margins.

 Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall beat Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, while Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher edged Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang.

“I just need to congratulate the US on playing some amazing golf,” European captain Annika Sorenstam said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We had 35 birdies and one eagle and lost three matches.

“Hope is the last thing that leaves us. And I’m optimistic.”