Old Drynie


Solheim Cup: Europe's win over the US puts PGA Tour finale in shade

Solheim Cup: Europe's win over the US puts PGA Tour finale in shade

Money cannot buy everything and despite the lavish riches on offer at the Tour Championship, the PGA Tour finale did not come close to acquiring the golfing glory generated by the Solheim Cup.

As laudable and lucrative as Patrick Cantlay's $15m (£10.9m) performance was in Atlanta last Sunday, the contest that truly captured the imagination ended a day later at the Inverness Club near Toledo, Ohio.

It was here that Europe's women completed a thrilling defence of the trophy they won against the United States in equally dramatic circumstances two years ago. This was another Solheim Cup that will live long in the memory.

There were precious few European fans on site to celebrate a win that ultimately silenced constant chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A" from the record crowds of 130,000 that left no one in any doubt of the identity of the home team.

There were no roars to greet Europe's heroics, just ripples of, admittedly, polite applause. There were no friends or relatives among the galleries to offer comfort to the visiting players - all they had was themselves and an inspired backroom team.

And huge credit must go to the quietly spoken captain Catriona Matthew. The experienced Scot has now piloted her continent to two underdog victories to cap her stellar golfing career.

She will not go looking for the limelight, but her calculated, meticulous and inspiring leadership deserves proper and enduring recognition.

Matthew, a former Women's Open champion, has never received the levels of appreciation from the wider sporting public she thoroughly deserves.

As the only European captain to win two Solheim Cups she has barely put a foot wrong with astute tactics that have wrong-footed her opposing number in both matches. Her final day singles order was a prime example, allowing Europe to build an ultimately unassailable lead.

Pairing Leona Maguire, the stand out performer in Toledo, with Mel Reid was a move neither player saw coming. "I don't think Leona liked me much beforehand," Reid admitted to BBC Sport.

The Irish rookie and English veteran gelled in practice and proved an unbeatable force in both of their foursomes matches and the fourballs on Saturday where Reid's sensational 18th hole birdie secured the half that gave Europe what ultimately proved a decisive two-point lead.

"We didn't know each other before this. I don't think she wanted to play with me to be honest," Reid added. "She's an unbelievable player, I really hope that the world now sees how good she is.

"Her new nickname is 'Lion', I mean she's so impressive and honestly it was an honour to play with her." 

Maguire won a rookie record four and a half points as the only golfer from either side to play all five sessions. "There was lots of heckling going on with the crowds," Maguire told me.

"We knew it would be a hostile crowd and we tried to get as much blue on the board early in the singles to get a message back to the girls and they really rallied at the end to seal the deal."

Maguire was the first to post a European point with her emphatic 5&4 win over fellow debutant Jennifer Kupcho, who was also unbeaten. It capped a stunning debut for the 26 year old from Cavan.

"Never could I have imagined for it to go as well as this," she added. "This is something I will never forget and definitely one of the best weeks of my life.

"I said if Beany (Matthew) wanted me to play five matches I would play five matches and give it my absolute all and I can sleep next week.

"We were underdogs coming over here and to win is just incredible."

It was a Solheim Cup to sit alongside the heroics of Gleneagles when Suzann Pettersen secured victory with the final putt two years ago and Killeen Castle in 2011 when Europe also snatched victory at the very last moment.

No fewer than 16 of the 28 matches went to the final green in Ohio, a mark of just how tense and exciting this contest proved.

Europe's mettle saw them through and furthered the reputation of an event that gains resonance with its every playing. "It goes to show the standard of golf in Europe, we've got some absolutely world class players," Reid stated.

"I can't tell you enough, it is one of the best spectacles in sport whether male or female.

"The Solheim Cup brings out the best in everybody that plays.

"I hope that lots of people follow golf now because of the display we've put on over the last few days."

Make no mistake, this was no mere appetiser for the Ryder Cup, which will be played later this month. This was a sumptuous main course in its own right.

The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will be another full-blooded sporting contest with not a cent in prize money. Instead, a shedload of golfing glory is at stake.

It is another example of golf in its most compelling form. And this performance from Europe's women can only serve as an inspiration for their male counterparts in Wisconsin. 

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Old Drynie