TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – Catriona Matthew had a feeling for Leona Maguire and Mel Reid. Or maybe it was just luck. European Cup team captain Solheim is not sure which one. She doesn’t care either.
All Matthew knows is that it works.
“They kind of reveled in each other’s company,” Matthew said.
Giving their team a chance to win the Cup on foreign soil for the second time in 31 years in the process.
Fueled by Maguire’s steel putting and a rainbow of an 8 iron by fiery but painful Reid, Europe took a 9-7 lead in the final singles matches on Monday as they tries to repeat as champion of the Solheim Cup.
Reid and Maguire finished the weekend unbeaten in three games after crushing world number one Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing on Sunday morning and struggled to match Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas in four balls in the afternoon .
Not bad for two players, there were practically unknowns when they arrived at Inverness last week. Maguire, 26, reserved, the first Irish woman to be part of a Solheim Cup team, and Reid, 33, charismatic and outgoing, will leave as friends. Maybe also winners after Reid got over a throbbing right shoulder to deliver the shot of the day and maybe his international career.
Kupcho gave the Americans the lead in the last active game on the course when she came in from the sidelines on par-4 17th.
Reid, a four-time Solheim Cup veteran who received medical attention during the tour to deal with stabbing pains in her back and right shoulder, responded by hitting a towering 8 iron into the wind at 136 yards which took bounced off the pass of a front bunker on the green before rolling to practically shooting range.
“I knew as soon as I hit it it was either going to be a little bit left and short or it was going to be good,” said Reid. “So I was hoping for good, and I almost wanted that bullet to go in the hole.”
Both Salas and Kupcho saw their birdie putts drift widely, and when Reid quickly hit in his 3-footer, Europe had a bit of leeway for the singles.
“I mean, look, the momentum has been going back and forth,” Reid said. “That’s what a Solheim Cup is. It was a huge half point for us. It made for a great afternoon for us and a nice little lead of two points for the (singles).
The Europeans need just five of a possible 12 points on Monday to keep the Cup, while the Americans need 7 1/2 to get it back. Being up after two days has not always been a good thing for visitors.
Eight times the Europeans have found themselves standing after 16 matches. They have won only four times, the last in 2013 when they won their only triumph in the United States at Colorado Golf Club.
“It’s going to be tight,” said Matthew, who guided Europe to victory at Gleneagles two years ago. “It always seems to come down to singles. Every little half point here and there will be crucial.
European Anna Nordvist, who is playing her seventh Solheim Cup record, will face American Lexi Thompson in the first singles match. American star Danielle Kang will face Emily Pedersen in the 12th and final game.
What happens in between will likely determine who wins the over 20 pound crystal trophy on Monday night. US captain Pat Hurst remains confident even with two of her struggling stars.
Nelly and Jessica Korda were almost unstoppable two years ago in Scotland. Things didn’t go so well for the Northwestern Ohio sisters, even with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson offering advice while serving as a volunteer assistant for Hurst.
The Kordas are only 1-3 in the Inverness breeze. Nelly Korda’s turn during her and Ewing’s 5-4 loss to Reid and Maguire included a paddle from a fairway bunker that sailed out of bounds, a chunky approach shot and a chip from the bangs that had only reached halfway through the hole before hitting the reverse gear.
Hurst remains optimistic, the Kordas will play a vital role in a potential comeback. Nelly Korda and Georgia Hall will come out fourth, with Jessica Korda taking on Charley Hull in the penultimate game of the biennial event.
“I need it for my singles matches,” said Hurst. “This is where we usually shine.”
Americans generally do. The United States has posted the best singles score nine times in 16 Solheim Cups. On all but one of those occasions, they’ve won singles with more than a 2-1 / 2-point lead that they’ll need on Monday if they are to reclaim the Cup.
It is a deficit that Americans believe they can manage. He certainly beats the alternative. For a brief period on Sunday morning, the United States trailed in all four round robin games. A rout loomed.
The Americans recovered to win three to return to the race and took the last nine advantage in three of the four four-ball games. Only rookies Mina Harigae and Yealimi Noh held on after Reid’s brilliant shot on the 18th saved a half point for Europe.
“I think it’s hard not to look at the rankings,” said Reid. “It was very red there for a minute, so to turn around and have the afternoon that we did, having a two point lead is an incredible result for us.”
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