GLENEAGLES, Scotland — After six harrowing hours of Sunday singles at Gleneagles, European captain Catriona Matthew finally could exhale. With a birdie on the 18th hole from Suzann Pettersen to close out a 1-up win over Marina Alex, Team Europe finished what it had set out to do in Scotland: end a two-match losing streak to the United States and win back the Solheim Cup.
The final session of the 16th playing of the biennial event, like the four sessions played out during the two previous days, was tense and dramatic. Europe and the U.S. began singles tied at 8-8. And after the first six matches had been completed on Sunday, the two teams remained tied at 11-11.
At that point, however, it looked like things were beginning to slip away from the Europeans. Jessica Korda’s 3-and-2 victory over Caroline Masson allowed the Americans to pull ahead by one. And when Megan Khang won the 18th hole against Charley Hull to tie their match, the U.S. had a 12½-11½ edge.
Lizette Salas put up another point for the U.S. with a 1-up win over Anne Van Dam, and Europe’s Anna Nordqvist beat Morgan Pressel, 4 and 3, to bring the score to 13½-12½ in favor of the U.S.
The outcome then rested on the two final matches, both tied through 15 holes. Europe’s Bronte Law made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and won the 17th with a par for a 2-and-1 victory over Ally McDonald to square the overall match once more, now at 13½-13½.
It would come down to Pettersen and Alex, tied in their match as they walked to the 18th tee. Alex found the fairway with her drive, and Pettersen found the right rough, but both laid up with their second shots on the par-5 home hole. Pettersen, the 38-year-old Norwegian playing her ninth Solheim Cups, hit her approach first, the ball landing past the hole and spinning back to eight feet below the cup. It put pressure on Alex, but the Solheim Cup rookie still hit her approach to 10 feet to give her a chance to pull things out for the Americans.
But Alex’s birdie try slid past the hole on the right. Then Pettersen, a controversial captain’s pick after having been away from competitive golf for nearly two years while giving birth to her son, Herman, calmly rolled in her putt to give the home team its victory.
"I didn't know it was to win it. I really didn't," Pettersen said afterward. "I knew it was close."
"Can you ask for any more? Last putt to win the cup? That was amazing," Pettersen said. "I could never in a million months think this was going to happen."
This is first time the Europeans have won the Cup since their victory in Colorado in 2013, and it's their sixth victory overall.
"To come down to the last match is quite the spectacle for women’s golf," said Matthew, who was leading the team in her home country of Scotland. "Obviously the Americans played great, and we just edged them out this time. I am so happy for Suzann. She got a bit of flack for me picking her, so just delighted that she got the winning putt."