RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Europeans storm back to level in the Solheim Cup

Europe storm back to draw level in the Solheim Cup as Carlota Ciganda leads the remarkable hosts to 8-8 score with a thrilling day of singles in store in Malaga

  • Europe’s remarkable comeback to 8-8 has been led by Carlota Ciganda
  • She was disqualified two months ago in a speed row, and it’s been slow again
  • But US Captain Stacy Lewis insists that they are in a ‘good spot’ for the final day

In the land of the slow, the snail is queen. The magnificent drama of this Solheim Cup has played out at a torturous pace so it is perhaps only right that Europe’s remarkable comeback to 8-8 has been led by Carlota Ciganda.

It has been a quite astonishing match, one that blew wildly in favour of the Americans after one bruising session, but now stands level through four with only the Sunday singles to play. For the first time this week at Finca Cortesin, momentum favours Europe.

And that is largely down to the brilliance of a Spaniard who just two months ago was disqualified from the Evian Championship in a row over the speed of her play. On a course where rounds are taking upwards of five and a half hours, Ciganda is being spoken about in considerably kinder terms and rightly so.

Having been benched in the opening foursomes whitewash, the 33-year-old has gone on to take three points from three, including one in the final fourballs match of the evening alongside Linn Grant. With their thrilling two-up win over Danielle Kang and Lilia Vu, assisted by Ciganda’s clutch putt from 10 feet on the 16th, Europe took the session 3-1 and were level for the first time since Friday morning.

Speaking ahead of the Sunday singles, in which Europe will need six points from 12 to retain the trophy, and 6.5 to win outright for a third straight edition, captain Suzann Pettersen said: ‘I am out of words but we have to remember we are not there. Now we put it into fifth gear and keep going.

Europe’s remarkable comeback to 8-8 in the Solheim Cup has been led by Carlota Ciganda

Captain Suzann Pettersen hailed Ciganda and Linn Grant for their roles in levelling the scores

‘This last match was unbelievable. The desire, the passion, the putts. It keeps happening every time. Linn is born for this, Carlota brings her A-game to Spain. Incredible.

‘Look where it started and we have come a long way.’

Europe had commenced play on Saturday at 5-3 behind, with the opening foursomes finishing 2-2, illuminated by Maja Stark and Grant’s one up victory over Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee in the final match. That served as a mood lift after Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier, unbeaten as a pairing across the two previous editions of the Cup, suffered their second straight loss here, crushed 5&3 by Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz.

Into the evening fourballs, the US led 7-5, but were pulled back hard. Charley Hull and Leona Maguire crushed Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing 4&3 and Madelene Sagstrom and Emily Pedersen beat Rose Zhang and Andree Lee. The US pair of Angel Yin and Cheyenne Knight fought back from two down to beat Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, including a momentum-shifting chip-in from Knight on the seventh, but Ciganda and Grant’s 2&1 victory has set up a fascinating final day. As ever, the Solheim Cup is delivering.

US Captain Stacy Lewis said: ‘We are in a good spot. We certainly wanted to win more points today but we are in a good spot. It came down to a couple of good European shots.

‘If you look at the scoreboard, momentum goes to Europe. But the way the girls and I feel about how we are playing, I like our momentum. In our team room, we are really happy with how we played and the position we are in.

‘The message on Sunday is don’t look at the leaderboard, just go take your point.’

US Captain Stacy Lewis insisted they were in a ‘good spot’ going into Sunday’s action

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