Solheim Cup: On to Sunday and 12 singles matches

(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) /

There’s more Solheim Cup history to be made Sunday at the singles matches.

The Solheim Cup Sunday singles matches are all that’s remaining to be played. The Americans are starting the matches with a 5 point lead over the Europeans. With 12 points at stake, the Europeans must capture 9 points, one way or the other.

Do the math: Team USA have 10½ points. Team Europe have 5½ points. Team USA must earn 14 points to retain the Cup. Team Europe must earn 14½ points to gain possession of the Cup.

It’s an historic deficit the Europeans face. But Team USA fans shouldn’t start celebrating. First, keep in mind that this is the first time since 1998 that Team USA has led going into the singles matches. Second, the Americans tend to win when they come from behind on Sunday.

The singles matches, all 12 of them, are a critical component of the Solheim Cup format and either team can walk away the winner of the 2017 Solheim Cup.

The comeback deficit Team Europe face isn’t insurmountable. In 2015 the Americans came from a four point deficit to win at St. Leon-Rot. These are remarkably well-matches teams. Thirteen of the 16 team matches went to the 17th or 18th hole. I’m not expecting many of these matches to end before the 16th hole. We’re in for a full day of golf.

Lessons from the team matches

The scores from the foursome and fourball matches don’t tell the story of athletic excellence I’ve enjoyed over the past two days. Annika Sörenstam said it all when she summed up Saturday’s play.

Beginning with Lexi Thompson’s drive off the first tee on Friday morning, the golf has surpassed my expectations. Even the shots gone wrong ended up being opportunities for creative and technically skilled saves – from behind trees, from the sides of bunkers, from rough so thick I think they’ll need to borrow some farmer’s harvester to get it cut come Monday.

Cristie Kerr became the highest American Solheim Cup points winner when she collected her 19th point on Saturday. That’s impressive and it’s special that we got to witness it. In fact, Cristie Kerr was impressive throughout the team play, but she’s still trailing Dame Laura Davies for the all-time Solheim Cup points record of 25 points.

Four rookies have impressed. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Angel Yin’s powerful shots, even when they were just a bit too powerful. Georgia Hall’s calm, precise game will keep her on the front page of the leaderboard for years. I think Austin Ernst discovered a new level under Paula Creamer’s mentorship. Danielle Kang seemed never to stop smiling and she delivered some killer putts along the way.

More from Solheim Cup

A special hat tip: to Anna Nordqvist, who played brilliantly under the most difficult physical circumstances; to Paula Creamer, who was passed over and then, when summoned, answered the call with grace and a willingness to give her very best; to Catriona Matthew, who stepped in at the 11th hour to fill a gap in the European roster when she’d charted another path.

Now, on to Sunday and those 12 singles matches that, taken together, will determine the outcome of the 2017 Solheim Cup. Just to set the scene, let’s recall an earlier Solheim Cup going into the Sunday singles matches.

Next: 2015 Solheim Cup Saturday hangover

A reminder of the schedule change: Sunday tee times have been moved forward by two hours to avoid threatening inclement weather.