Europe overcame a spirited rally by the United States in the fourballs to lead 4½-3½ Friday after the opening day of the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle.
With the sides even at 2-2 following the morning foursomes, rookie Caroline Hedwall and fellow Swede Sophie Gustafson put Europe 3-2 ahead with a 5 and 4 win over Vicky Hurst and Brittany Lincicome.
The Solheim Cup is being played in Ireland for the first time, after previous European editions had been staged in Scotland, Wales and Sweden.
Europe was up in the other three matches at that stage but Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer came back from one down with two to play to beat Europe's Laura Davies and Melissa Reid by one hole. Pressel made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th for the win.
Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal were two up with three to play against Christina Kim and Ryann O'Toole. But the Americans salvaged a halved match when Kim birdied the 16th and O'Toole birdied the 17th to tie before the 18th was shared at par.
Europe held on to win the fourball session 2½-1½ when Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist, who where three up at the turn, captured the 18th to beat Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie by two holes.
In the morning, Suzann Pettersen sank an eight-foot putt on the last hole to give Europe a win in the final foursome and even the score at 2-2.
The U.S. had trailed in three of the four matches on a windy morning at the Killeen Castle course, but took a 2-1 lead after Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome came back from two down with four holes to play to beat Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid.
Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson lost the 17th hole to be all square with Americans Juli Inkster and Brittany Lang going into the 18th. But Inkster missed a 10-foot birdie putt and the second-ranked Pettersen made hers to pull even.
While the hosts had looked set to take an early lead, European Captain Alison Nicholas was happy to come away tied after the morning play.
“It looked like we were going to go 3-1 ahead and then we lost the second match, and the bottom match lost the 17th to go all square and I thought, ‘This is getting tight,”’ Nicholas said. “But Suzann holed an unbelievable putt on the last and that’s what world champions are made of.”
The Americans are looking for their fourth straight victory in the biennial match play series, and Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr gave the visitors an ideal start by beating Swedish duo Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist 2 and 1 in the opening match.
But Europe’s Catriona Matthew and Azahara Munoz responded with a convincing 3 and 2 win over Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford, before the late drama in the last two matches.
Creamer and Lincicome began their comeback with a birdie to win the 15th and the Europeans then collapsed with double bogeys on the last two holes.
“It was a crazy last couple of holes, but we just told ourselves even if we get a half that’s all we’re trying to do is get back,” Creamer said. “We watched it go to one (down), then all square, and to walk away with a win, we’ll take it any day.”
U.S. Captain Rosie Jones seemed as pleased as her counterpart with the split morning result.
“I think we had a good showing this morning, we had a little scary board there for a little while,” Jones said. “But our girls hung tough and came back on one match and almost won that last match, which we ended up losing, but it was pretty good. Really good. Showed a lot of heart there, so that’s a good sign.”
Friday morning foursomes:
Kerr/Wie, USA, def. Hjorth/Nordqvist, EUR, 2&1
Creamer/Lincicome, USA, def. Stuples/Reid, EUR, 1-up
Matthew/Munoz, EUR, def. Lewis/Stanford, USA, 3&2
Pettersen/Gustafson, EUR, def. Lang/Inkster, USA, 1-up
Friday afternoon fourballs:
Pressel/Creamer, USA, def. Davies/Reid, EUR, 1-up
Kim/O'Toole, USA, vs. Matthew/Gal, EUR, halved
Gustafson/Hedwall, EUR, def. Hurst/Lincicome, USA, 5&4
Pettersen/Nordqvist, EUR, def. Kerr/Wie, USA, 2-up