PARKER, Colo. — Europe took an important step Friday toward winning the Solheim Cup on American soil.
Carlota Ciganda salvaged an unlikely par from a hazard on the par-5 15th hole and kept her and Suzann Pettersen from falling behind. Pettersen won the next hole with a birdie, sending them from 2 down at the turn to a 1-up victory in a pivotal fourballs match that staked Europe to a 5-3 lead.
A long day at Colorado Golf Club ended with Stacy Lewis, on the losing end of that match, getting into a heated discussion with an official over the use of a laser by the official to determine the right drop. At one point, Lewis threw her hands in the air. Along with using a laser, Lewis was upset with the length of the chaotic ruling.
The laser was used to make sure Ciganda’s options would be equal distance from the hole.
“Part of the problem we had with it was the rules official lasered the flag and made it public information. So he gave them a number,” Lewis said.
That was a moot point, however, when Ciganda eventually dropped from an entirely different spot. She hit her fourth shot just off the green, and holed a 15-foot putt right when it looked as if the Americans would take the lead.
“The explanation was about as bad as the ruling, I thought,” Lewis said. “I don’t think it was correct. It took way too long. It killed the momentum of our match. It killed the momentum of the matches behind us, and it’s just not what you want the rules officials to ever do.”
Pettersen and Carolina Hedwall led the European charge by winning both their matches.
The day was not a total loss for Meg Mallon’s squad.
She was scrutinized for taking Michelle Wie as a captain’s pick. Wie’s superb short game combined with Cristie Kerr making big putts early as they disposed of Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull, 2 and 1, in the final match.
The Americans picked up another point in the afternoon behind Lang and Lincicome, with Lang holing a bunker shot on the 14th hole to give her side control of the match.
In the morning, the lone American point came from Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda, a 20-year-old rookie who had a most unusual start.
Korda described the opening tee shot as “very scary,” and the rest of the first hole as simply surreal.
After a breakfast of milk and cereal, she was munching on a banana down the first fairway when she became nauseous. She walked over to the side of the fairway and threw up, news that spread quickly across the expansive course and gave her teammates a moment of levity.
“After I got past the first hole, I was pretty OK,” said Korda, whose 7-foot par putt to halve the 16th hole clinched the match.
Thompson, another rookie, stole a page from Bubba Watson at the Ryder Cup when she asked the crowd to crank up the noise as she hit the opening tee shot. Thompson smashed one on the 635-yard hole, and with help from the mile-high air, reached the green in two.
That was the highlight. Even with Ciganda scrambling out of the hazard, Thompson was just short of the green in two on the 15th. She hit a poor pitch some 18 feet from the hole and missed the birdie putt. On the next hole, Thompson three-putted from the back of the green or par, badly missing the birdie putt from 5 feet.
Europe also had the lead after the opening day two years ago in Ireland, and it went on to win the Solheim Cup. This is the largest lead it has had on Friday since 5-3 at Crooked Stick in 2005. The Americans came back to win, and still have never lost the cup on home soil.
That might be tested this week in Colorado.