Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 18 News List

US lead Solheim Cup by a point

AFP , SUGAR GROVE, Illinois

Michelle Wie of the US celebrates a birdie at the sixth hole during the Solheim Cup morning fourball matches at the Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club in Sugar Grove, Illinois, on Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

The US split the afternoon foursomes with Europe, but led 4.5 to 3.5 after the first day of the Solheim Cup on Friday.

Paula Creamer made a 20-footer for par on the 17th to give her and Juli Inkster a 2 and 1 victory over Europe’s Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie in the afternoon’s last foursomes match — giving the Americans their one-point lead.

That doesn’t augur well for Europe. The Americans are 4-0 when they lead after the first day, and only once in the previous 10 editions of the US v Europe tournament has a team come back and captured the trophy after trailing after day one.

The foursomes win also made Inkster the highest-scoring US player in the history of the biennial women’s match play event, with 17.5 points.

Only Europe’s Annika Sorenstam with 24 points and Laura Davies with 23 points have scored more points than Inkster in Solheim Cup play.

Creamer and Inkster were 3-up by the 12th hole, when Inkster knocked her approach stiff and Europe conceded the birdie.

Matthew and Moodie responded. They won both the 13th and 14th holes to cut the margin to 1-down, but Moodie, as she did most of the match, missed a short birdie putt at 15 to lose the hole and fall 2-down with three to go.

Both teams parred 16 and Inkster drove into the rough at 17. Creamer had no option but to lay up short of the water and Inkster hit a solid third to 20 feet.

Europe made their par and Creamer needed to hole her par putt or the match would go to 18.

“It was good,” Inkster said. “We had some sloppy play in the middle — I did. The thing with alternate shot, is you’ve just got to ham-and-egg it, do the best you can and ride it out.”

Natalie Gulbis and Christina Kim had jumped out early against Europe’s Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen in the first foursomes match en route to a 4 and 2 win.

Gulbis and Kim went 3-up at the 14th hole, and they were on the green at 16 with a putt for par as Pettersen’s chip hit a tree and the Europeans conceded.

Europe’s Becky Brewerton and Gwladys Nocera responded with a 3 and 1 foursomes victory over Americans Angela Stanford and Nicole Castrale.

LPGA Champion Anna Nordqvist and Maria Hjorth then beat Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Brittany Lincicome and Kristy McPherson 3 and 2.

The defending champions need only 14 points to retain the cup, while Europe, who have never won on US soil, need 14.5 to win.

Matthew and Hjorth claimed a morale-building half-point in the last of the morning four-ball matches, spoiling Michelle Wie’s Solheim Cup debut as Matthew made a birdie at the last to halve with Wie and Morgan Pressel.

Despite not getting an outright win, Wie was thrilled with her first Solheim Cup experience.

“I think this was the most fun I’ve ever had playing,” she said. “It was just unbelievable — the crowd, the cheers, everything about it. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on the golf course.”

■WYNDHAM

REUTERS, GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

Sergio Garcia came to Greensboro in search of his game and on Friday at the Wyndham Championship it looked like he was starting to find it.

The Spaniard shot a six-under 64 that included two eagles in his second round, pulling within two strokes of leaders Chris Riley and Ryan Moore, on a day when 28 players failed to complete the second round because of a back-log from Thursday’s bad weather.

Riley carded a second-round 63 to move to 11-under, while Moore, also on 11-under, had one hole left in his second round when play resumed yesterday. Jeff Maggert was on 10-under with one hole to play.

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