Team draws even with U.S.

Saturday, Aug 22, 2009 5:57 PM
Last updated 10:11 PM
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SUGAR GROVE, Ill. - Cristie Kerr nearly took the head off of a fake swan, and Michelle Wie overshot the green.

And they still managed to halve the hole.

Kerr and Wie overcame two ragged final holes to salvage a 1-up foursome win at the Solheim Cup this afternoon, keeping the Americans tied with Europe going into Sunday's all-important singles matches. The way the Americans have played in singles, that's almost like having the lead.

The United States has a .602 winning percentage in singles over the course of the tournament, and has lost only three times in singles. The last time? That would be 2003, also the last time Europe won the Solheim Cup.

The Americans need 14 points to win a third straight Solheim Cup, while Europe needs 14½ points to claim it on U.S. soil for the first time.

Wie and Christina Kim's easy 5-and-4 victory over Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elosegui in the opening fourball match looked as if it might be the start of a big day for the Americans. While Wie and Kim partied at the green, the raucous crowd chanted "The Cup stays here."

It was way too early for that.

Europe rallied to win the fourballs 2½-1½ and tie tournament up, then took an early lead in foursomes with two easy wins. And just when it looked as if Wie and Kerr had the tie comfortably in hand, everybody came unglued, which made for some ugly, uncomfortable golf as the sun went down over Rich Harvest Farms.

Wie and Kerr were 2 up on Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist until Hjorth made a 3-footer for birdie on the 16th.

Kerr is one of the steadiest players on the U.S. team, which made her decision on 17 all the more shocking. Wie's tee shot had gone into the rough on the right side, and there was a big pond between Kerr and the green. Kerr decided to go for it and, sure enough, the ball skipped through the water, nearly hitting one of the fake swans in the middle.

Wie mishit the next shot and it flew the green, landing in deep rough. Kerr made a nice chip that skirted the hole, but it wouldn't drop.

Most holes, that would mean a loss. But not on this one. Hjorth went in the sand off the tee and Nordqvist muffed the approach shot. Needing to make a 6-footer for bogey and the hole, Hjorth missed. Wie then rolled in a 3-footer to halve the hole.

The Americans caught more breaks on 18.

Kerr's drive hit a tree, and kicked out into the fairway. She hit a bad chip shot, and it flew the green, leaving Wie with an 18-foot downhill putt. The ball curved around the edge of the cup and the U.S. team started to jump to its feet to celebrate. But the ball wouldn't drop, leaving the players stunned.

All Hjorth had to do was make a 6-footer, and Europe would have halved the match. But she couldn't do it, and the Americans had the win.

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