SUGAR GROVE, Illinois (Reuters) - The United States maintained their unbeaten record on American soil by clinching the Solheim Cup for a third consecutive time on Sunday, beating Europe 16-12 with a sparkling display in the last-day singles.
Needing 14 points to keep possession of the prestigious trophy, the home team secured the decisive point when Morgan Pressel beat Swede Anna Nordqvist 3&2 in the penultimate match at a sun-baked Rich Harvest Farms.
Pressel never trailed in her encounter and sealed victory when Nordqvist was unable to get up and down to save par from greenside rough at the 171-yard 16th.
“I am still speechless,” a tearful Pressel, 21, said in a greenside interview as chants of ‘USA, all the way’ echoed across the par-73 layout. “It’s very emotional.
“It’s been a long week, we played great and I’m so proud of my team. They set me up to be able to win on that hole. It’s a great feeling.”
Europe, who have now lost eight times in 11 editions of the competition, held their own earlier in the day, leading in five and trailing in just three matches at one point. Midway through the afternoon, they led in six of the 12 singles encounters.
“I just can’t even believe they’ve done this because for a while it really didn’t look like it was going to be possible,” U.S. captain Beth Daniel told reporters. “Through (holes) 12, 13 and 14 today, they just turned it around.”
European captain Alison Nicholas said: “The girls tried to keep up with them but they (the U.S.) just holed a few more putts than us. It’s tough to come over here and win, and to be honest with you, we were huge underdogs to start the week.”
The Americans, tied 8-8 with Europe overnight, won the first point of the day when Angela Stanford crushed Britain’s Becky Brewerton 5&4 in the second match out.
Stanford never trailed after winning the opening hole with a birdie three and she wrapped up victory by knocking in a six-foot birdie putt at the par-four 14th.
Soon after, world number four Paula Creamer earned the Americans their 10th point with a commanding 3&2 win over sixth-ranked Norwegian Suzann Pettersen in the top match.
Creamer, who had been one down after five holes, drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-four 10 to take the lead for the first time before tightening her grip.
“It was a great match,” Creamer said after extending her perfect record in Cup singles matches to 3-0. “I played really well and I put the pressure on her all day long.”
Cup rookie Michelle Wie followed suit with a one-up victory over veteran Helen Alfredsson after a fluctuating battle.
Wie eagled the par-five second and was three up on Alfredsson after seven holes before the Swede leveled the match on the 11th green. Wie, however, fought back to seal the win with a two-putt birdie at the last.
Britain’s Catriona Matthew earned Europe’s first point of the day by beating Cup rookie Kristy McPherson 3&2 before the U.S. gained an unexpected boost when Brittany Lang halved her match with Laura Davies.
Lang had been three down with eight holes remaining but held her nerve down the stretch to claw her way back, securing the half with a birdie at the last.
Brittany Lincicome beat Swede Sophie Gustafson 3&2 and 49-year-old Juli Inkster, the oldest player at a Solheim Cup, came from three down after 13 holes to halve her match with Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera and leave the U.S. a point from retaining the trophy.
The effervescent Christina Kim claimed the last full point for the U.S. with a two-up win over Spaniard Tania Elosegui.
Editing by Dave Thompson and Justin Palmer