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Captain Matthew confident of Europe’s chances in finely-poised Solheim Cup

Europe and the USA are locked at 8-8 heading into Sunday’s 12 singles matches.

Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier fought back to secure Europe’s only afternoon fourballs win against the USA at Gleneagles (Jane Barlow/PA)
Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier fought back to secure Europe’s only afternoon fourballs win against the USA at Gleneagles (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent

Europe captain Catriona Matthew is confident her side can regain the Solheim Cup after a brilliant fightback from Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier left the contest finely poised at Gleneagles.

Hall and Boutier were four over par after seven holes and unsurprisingly four down against Ally McDonald and Angel Yin, but fought back to claim their third win together and the home side’s only victory of the afternoon fourballs.

Suzann Pettersen and Anne Van Dam had earlier lost a hard-fought contest with Brittany Altomare and Annie Park on the last, while Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff halved with Lexi Thompson and Marina Alex after Masson missed from six feet for victory on the 18th.

Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang then beat the Spanish pair of Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz 2&1 as darkness descended to level the scores at 8-8 ahead of Sunday’s 12 singles matches.

That was also the score in Ireland in 2011 when Europe won for the only time without holding the lead going into the singles, but Matthew acknowledged the situation could have been worse after her side trailed in all four matches midway through a windswept afternoon.

“I think you always want to be going in ahead but tied is good and we are probably happier tonight than we were last night,” Matthew said. “So I think it bodes well for tomorrow.

I think we have a good chance. There's not much between the teams and we are going into it with a lot of confidence. Europe captain Catriona Matthew

“I think we have a good chance. There’s not much between the teams and we are going into it with a lot of confidence.

“It’s just going to come down to the odd shot or putt to get the momentum going one way or another.”

As the holders, the United States need six more points to retain the trophy and secure an unprecedented hat-trick of victories under captain Juli Inkster, who was delighted with her side’s position after leaving out the unbeaten Korda sisters – Jessica and Nelly – in the fourballs.

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Team USA captain Juli Inkster (right) celebrates with Lizette Salas on the 17th during the fourballs at Gleneagles (Jane Barlow/PA)

“My gosh, you’re sitting the Kordas and putting two rookies in the first match,” Inkster said. “I’m ecstatic to be where we’re at right now. And Danielle and Lizette finally got on the board. I hung with them, had confidence in them and they showed me something today.

“We’re ecstatic where we are because I think we’re pretty good in singles. Hopefully the weather will be a little better tomorrow, we can see some really good golf from the Euros and the USA and battle for the cup.”

Hall and Boutier were still three down with five to play, but Boutier drove the green on the short 14th and holed from 30 feet for an eagle before also making a birdie on the par-five 16th.

Hall’s par on the 17th was enough to move ahead for the first time in the match and a conceded birdie on the last completed the brilliant comeback.

“I’m over the moon,” former Women’s British Open champion Hall said.

“We didn’t have the best of starts and the weather was horrendous but we grinded it out and managed to get the job done.”

Rookie Boutier added: “I had the best partner out there and I couldn’t have done it without her, that’s for sure.”

Europe had earlier held on to their overnight one-point lead after the morning foursomes, despite an extraordinary collapse from Anna Nordqvist and Van Dam.

The duo, the only new foursomes pairing selected by captain Matthew, were four up after six holes against Morgan Pressel and Alex, only to lose seven of the next nine on their way to a stunning 2&1 defeat.

Ciganda and Bronte Law also suffered a record-equalling 6&5 loss to the Korda sisters, but victories for Charley Hull and Munoz, and Hall and Boutier left the home side narrowly ahead heading into the afternoon fourballs.

PA

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