PARKER, Colo. – The drama for Stacy Lewis was about the golf Saturday, not the rules.
The day after a rules debacle left her standing on the 15th green for more than 25 minutes, America's highest-ranked player finally got on the board at the Solheim Cup, teaming with Paula Creamer for a back-and-forth, 1-up victory over Azahara Munoz and Karin Icher.
"We had a blast today," said Lewis, the Women's British Open champion who is ranked second in the world.
It was a tense match, filled with huge momentum shifts and, ultimately, a gift from the Europeans.
Heading into Saturday afternoon's matches, Europe led 6-5.
Tied on the 18th hole of the morning's alternate-shot match, Lewis put Creamer in trouble when she smothered her approach shot into trees to the left of the green. But Icher hit an even worse shot, thinning her third shot out of a fairway bunker and lodging the ball inside a yucca plant in front of the sand.
Creamer successfully hit the third shot out of trouble. After a drop and a bad pitch, the Europeans were lying 6 and conceded the hole and the match. The United States got the victory – Lewis' first in three tries this week – after squandering a 4-up lead after 10 holes.
Munoz and Icher made three birdies and a par to win four straight holes and tie the match heading to the 15th tee box, which is where the drama began for Lewis the day before.
"I was just hoping we weren't going to spend 27 minutes on the green again," she said. "So, the fact that we got out of there pretty quick was nice."
Lewis hit the wedge to 8 feet and Creamer converted the birdie to put the Americans ahead again.
Quite a different scene from Friday, when rules officials took nearly a half-hour to decide where Carlota Ciganda should drop after she hit her ball in a hazard fronting the green. Ciganda ended up getting up and down for par to halve the hole and Europe went on to defeat Lewis and Lexi Thompson 1 up. Officials later acknowledged they had made an incorrect ruling, but couldn't change the result.
Lewis reiterated her frustration with the scenario, especially the long wait that sapped her momentum and that of the American team behind her, which also lost.
"When you have to sit there and just stand around and stand around, it's hard to hit a putt or shot or anything," Lewis said. "It just throws you out of your rhythm. And golf is a lot of rhythm and momentum, and especially in match play. So, it definitely had an effect."
ACE IN PLACE: It's no overstatement to say Anna Nordqvist finished with a bang.
The Swede slammed a 7-iron off the flagpole and into the cup for an ace on the par-3 17th hole to put a sudden end to her match against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda.
The hole-in-one gave Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall a 2-and-1 victory and was good for Europe's only win in the morning alternate-shot matches.
"It's definitely one of the highlights of my career," Nordqvist said. "It's not many times you can actually hole out to win the match."
Among the few times it's happened in these match-play events was at the Ryder Cup in 2006, when Paul Casey aced the 14th hole to close out a win over Dustin Johnson and Stewart Cink.
For Pressel, however, the memories might have come from her last big tournament in the Denver area – the 2005 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. Back then, she covered her head with her hands in dismay in the 18th fairway as Birdie Kim holed out from a greenside bunker to end Pressel's hopes for a playoff. This time, Pressel was standing on the tee box when she saw her chance at victory slip away.
"Are you kidding me?" she said, as she watched the ball go in.
Nordqvist figures she'll be buying some drinks to celebrate this one.
"I guess it might be pretty expensive for me, a lot of people are watching," she said. "But it's one of the moments that I'm really going to remember for a long time."
ANOTHER ROW OVER RULING: One day later, one hole further down the golf course, Solheim Cup rules officials found themselves in another drawn-out dispute over where to drop balls that flew into a hazard.
Saturday's row, which European captains timed at 31 minutes, came on the par-5 16th and involved American Cristie Kerr and Europe's Beatriz Recari, both of whom teed off into the hazard that separates the split fairways on the 532-yard hole.
The sides couldn't reach agreement on where either drop should come. The bigger problem appeared to be deciding where Recari's shot entered the hazard.
LPGA Tour official Brad Alexander, who admitted rules officials had erred in the protracted case involving Europe's Carlota Ciganda on No. 15 the day before, watched replays on TV and came out to the course but that didn't offer any quick resolution.
After Recari finally dropped, she hit her third shot onto the green and had a 25-foot putt to close the match. She missed and the players moved to 18 before the Europeans closed out a 1-up victory and a sweep of the best-ball matches, courtesy of Karine Icher's 45-foot putt from off the fringe.
Still miffed at the prolonged argument long after the match was over, Recari gave a detailed explanation. Her version: Three spotters said they saw the ball bounce on the ground and cross the line of the hazard. The Americans, meanwhile, heard Recari shouting at the ball to "get right," which suggested to them it was over the hazard the entire time and never hit the ground.
"Bottom line, they won the hole," Recari said. "I mean, we have to be adults. ... If it's inconclusive, we have to come to agreement. That was the argument for 31 minutes, the referee and all of us trying to figure it out. And we went back and forth."
One major difference between the Friday and Saturday disputes: America had no momentum to lose, the way it did when Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson got held up for nearly a half-hour on the 15th hole while officials figured out where Ciganda should drop.
Ciganda got up and down to save par en route to a victory on Friday. Recari's drop wound up making no difference in the match, but Europe still walked away with the win and the five-point lead heading into Sunday singles.
"It took forever, it was a mess, and it made everybody a little frazzled," Kerr said. "And I mean, really, where my ball crossed, it kind of wasn't a question. But we were just trying to get it right. And we had to go to TV, and that took forever. And then the fans got anxious and it was weird."
THE NEW SPANISH ARMADA: Carlota Ciganda looked like a different player Saturday than she did in her Solheim Cup debut.
The reason: Her partner, Azahara Munoz.
"I met Carlota when she was 8 and I was 11," Munoz said. "And every time, in the Spanish team, we always play the foursomes together. And ever since I can remember, we are best friends."
Ciganda made the 12-foot birdie putt to clinch a 1-up victory over Angela Stanford and Gerina Pillar and close out a day that was much different from her opening match. She and Suzann Pettersen won that match, in large part because Ciganda got a favorable – and incorrect – ruling about where to drop on the 15th hole, then got up-and-down for a par.
But she was all over the place on Friday, playing from the scrub and weeds through most of the back nine.
On Saturday, with Munoz by her side, it was a much different story.
Cigada made the first of four birdies on No. 2 and, of course, saved the best one for last – after curling a 7-iron close on the uphill 18th.
"Today it was like playing just a normal event like we used to in Spain or even in Europe," Ciganda said. "So I trust her and I think she trusts me, too."
HEATED MOMENT: Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson were involved in an argument on the seventh green when Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff conceded Creamer's par putt after Creamer had lined it up and was ready to make the stroke.
Europe already had a birdie and Creamer's putt for par was on the same line as her partner, who had a birdie putt to halve the hole.
As Creamer was getting ready to putt, European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam shouted that her team should concede the putt. Ewart-Shadoff's caddie then told Creamer, "That's good."
The Europeans didn't want to give Thompson a free look at the line. Under the Rules of Golf, when they conceded Creamer's putt, she wasn't allowed to make the stroke because it would assist her partner.
An argument ensued, and shortly afterward, Thompson made her putt anyway, accentuating it with a big fist pump. It drew the match to even, but the Americans ended up losing, 2 down.
"Things happen out there," Creamer said. "It's an unfortunate thing. I think you should kind of know the rules of match play, for sure, when you're out there, but at the same time, Jodi and Charley apologized for what happened."
American Captain Meg Mallon said Solheim Cup officials spoke with USGA officials, who said Sorenstam's directive didn't count as "advice," and therefore didn't violate a rule that allows only head captains to advise the players.
Ewart-Shadoff said it was much ado about nothing, given that Thompson made the putt.
"We kind of were unsure about what the rule was about playing out when we had already made the birdie," she said. "At the end of the day, they made the putt and there's nothing really to say about it."
SHORT SHOTS: Giulia Sergas was the only European to only play one match over the first two days. ... Americans who haven't tallied a point yet: Lexi Thompson, Gerina Piller and Angela Stanford, who is on a six-match losing streak. ... By splitting her matches Saturday, Michelle Wie moved to 5-1-1 lifetime when playing as a captain's pick.