WEST DES MOINES, IOWA | If you missed Saturday at the Solheim Cup, you missed the best golf show of the year and Exhibit 1A of why women’s golf is worth every minute you give it.
For starters, the folks who run the thing said the crowd numbered 25,000. But the whooping, cheering, college-football worthy throngs (many of whom came in garb you wouldn’t wear to a Mardi Gras parade) were only following four groups in the morning and four in the afternoon. So it looked like a million corn-fed Iowans descended on Des Moines Golf and Country Club. People were – quite literally – climbing trees to see this.
— Steve Eubanks (@jseubanks) August 18, 2017
Every one of them got their money’s worth. After a 2-2 split in the foursome matches in the morning, the sun came out, the course firmed up, and both teams played sizzling match-play golf, an afternoon for the history books. For example, Lizette Salas and Angel Yin made five birdies and an eagle in 16 holes and got thumped, 4 and 2, by Anna Nordqvist and Jodi Ewart Shadoff. That was the most lopsided match of the afternoon, and the one with the least number of birdies.
Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang made six birdies and an eagle in the first seven holes. They finished with 10 birdies in a match against Mel Reid and Carlotta Ciganda that went all the way to the 18th hole.
There was a little of everything. Yin hit three tee shots longer than 330 yards (none of them downhill). Austin Ernst, who partnered with Paula Creamer for a 2-and-1 victory against Karine Icher and Madelene Sagström, made six birdies through 17 holes, including a 161-yard shot with an 8-iron that came within a half-inch of an ace at No. 14, followed by a chip-in birdie at 15. Not to be out-done, Creamer had four birdies and an eagle during that same stretch.
Cristie Kerr birdied five of her first eight holes and her partner, Lexi Thompson, birdied two of the ones she missed in their match against Catriona Matthew and Georgia Hall. As fantastic as that was, the Americans were only 1-up through 10. Kerr and Thompson didn’t move into a comfortable lead until Kerr almost aced 14 (a 2-inch concession) and holed a bunker shot for eagle at 15.
How good was the golf on Saturday afternoon? Team Europe made 35 birdies and an eagle and got trounced. The eight Americans had a best-ball score of 20-under with two parred holes – the ninth and 18th.
If, after this, you shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh, I really can’t watch women’s golf,” you should turn in your fan card. Because this was as good as it gets in our game.