After all the talk, the Solheim Cup got underway at Finca Cortesin. Here’s what went down on Friday in Spain…
Europe staged an afternoon fightback and have the momentum on their side despite trailing the United States 5-3.
The USA flew out of the blocks, winning all four of the opening foursomes matches. But Europe came roaring back, with a 3-1 win in the afternoon fourballs.
What happened on the opening day?
The USA were electric in the foursomes, claiming a 4-0 whitewash, but it’s Europe who might be the happier group after the first day.
It was American domination in the morning session. All four matches went the way of the visitors, and it started from the very first group.
In her sixth appearance, Lexi Thompson had the privilege of hitting the first tee shot at the driveable par-4 1st. Playing alongside Megan Khang, the pair went 3-up through three holes against Swedish rookies Linn Grant and Maja Stark.
The Swedes fought back to be level at one point, but Thompson and Khang eventually won 2&1.
Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee played together for the first time, and took down the European blockbuster pairing of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall, who were previously unbeaten.
Nelly Korda was the only player to find the water on the first, but she was on the winning side, alongside Allisen Corpuz.
The last match of the morning saw Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight run riot, beating Charley Hull and Emily Kristine Pedersen 5&4, having been 6up at one point.
The afternoon fourballs were a different story, as there was no red on the board come the end of play.
Megan Khang played alongside Rose Zhang in the opening match, tying with the European pairing of Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom.
Emily Kristine Pedersen played alongside Maja Stark in the afternoon, and they tied their contest with Allisen Corpuz and Jennifer Kupcho.
Home favourite Carlota Ciganda had to be patient to feature in front of the partisan Spanish crowd. It was worth the wait, though, as she won 4&2 alongside Linn Grant. The pair got the better of Ally Ewing and Angel Yin.
After tasting defeat in the Solheim Cup for the first time in the morning, Leona Maguire provided a moment of magic to win 1-up alongside Georgia Hall, beating Lexi Thompson and debutant Lilia Vu.
What was the biggest talking point?
Charley Hull admitted that she was not at 100 per cent prior to the Solheim Cup getting underway on Friday morning.
Team Europe captain Suzann Pettersen put her out in the last match of the opening session.
It proved to be a bad judgement call. Hull and partner Emily Kristine Pedersen lost 5&4, were never in the contest. They were six down through 10, and Hull looked uneasy throughout.
It could have been worse for Team Europe. John Huggan, of Golf Digest, reported the Englishwoman arrived in the nick of time to the first tee.
Hull had apparently lost track of time on the range and captain “Suzann Pettersen went looking for her star player”.
Pettersen chose to sit Hull out of the afternoon fourballs, so the Englishwoman could rest up and receive treatment on the neck issue that is plaguing her.
Will we see the European taliswoman back on Saturday? If we do, will she be at her best? If not, how much will Team Europe miss her?
It wasn’t the easiest of days for Emily Kristine Pedersen, but she battled back after a tough morning to make history.
The Dane recorded just the second hole-in-one in the competition’s history with a wonderful shot at the par-3 12th.
Only teammate Anna Nordqvist had ever made an ace in Solheim Cup history, with the Swede’s hole-in-one coming back in 2013 at Colorado Golf Club.
And the best stat?
The Americans made history on the opening morning, as they whitewashed a foursomes session in the Solheim Cup for the first time.
Only twice in the last three decades have an American side won a foursomes session 4-0.
America has never swept a day of Foursomes at the Solheim Cup.— Michael Wolf (@bamabearcat) September 22, 2023
The last time any American team went 4-0 in Foursomes matches against GB&I was the 1997 Walker Cup at Quaker Ridge. (Curtis Cup only has 3 Foursomes matches each day)
As well as the 1997 Walker Cup, the American team also whitewashed the Europeans in the 2016 Ryder Cup, taking a 4-0 advantage after the first session at Hazeltine.
What they said…
“I can’t believe we’ve never done it before,” US captain Stacy Lewis said after going 4-0 in the morning foursomes. “I am just so proud of these girls. They believes in everything I have been working on. They trusted me and believes in the process, and played some amazing golf this morning.”
“We get knocked down, we stand back up and go out there again. A lot of the girls fought very hard,” European captain Suzann Pettersen said in between sessions. “We just have to stand back up. These players are hungry, they want to go out there and get their points. We have a job to do.”
“I was just embracing it and having fun. The atmosphere on the first hole is amazing,” Carlota Ciganda said after playing on home soil. “To play in Spain, it’s amazing for me. We played a really good fourball and we were in control all the time.”
Ludvig Aberg was in attendance watching the European team. He said: “It’s kind of a warm up for me, to experience this atmosphere and to hang out in this environment has been really cool!”
Morning foursomes: Europe 0-4 USA
Linn Grant & Maja Stark lost to Lexi Thompson & Megan Khang 2&1
Celine Boutier & Georgia Hall lost to Danielle Kang & Andrea Lee 1-up
Leona Maguire & Anna Nordqvist lost to Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz 1-up
Charley Hull & Emily Kristine Pedersen lost to Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight 5&4
Afternoon fourballs: Europe 3-1 USA
Gemma Dryburgh & Madelene Sagstrom tied with Rose Zhang & Megan Khang
Leona Maguire & Georgia Hall beat Lexi Thompson & Lilia Vu 1up
Emily Kristine Pedersen & Maja Stark tied with Jennifer Kupcho & Allisen Corpuz
Carlota Ciganda & Linn Grant beat Angel Yin & Ally Ewing 4&2
Day 1 score: Europe 3-5 USA
We dive deep into the golf ball roll back plans!