ST LEON-ROT, Germany (Reuters) - Another remarkable display by teenager Charley Hull and a wonder shot from Carlota Ciganda were the highlights of a rain-marred first day as Europe snatched a 4-2 lead over the U.S. at the Solheim Cup on Friday.
Hull, who stole the show as a 17-year-old when Europe won the biennial event for the second edition in a row in Colorado two years ago, won both her matches at the St Leon-Rot Golf Club to spearhead her team’s push for a hat-trick of victories.
The Englishwoman and compatriot Melissa Reid started the day with a 2 and 1 foursomes triumph over Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome before Hull combined with Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera to defeat Alison Lee and Angela Stanford 3 and 2 in the fourballs.
Carin Koch’s European side shared the honors in the foursomes before winning the only two fourballs to be completed after a thunderstorm caused a 65-minute interruption in the afternoon.
With almost the last stroke of the day, Ciganda produced a moment of magic in the gloom as her second shot pitched six feet past the flag at the 17th before spinning back into the cup for an eagle two amid wild scenes of jubilation.
The Spaniard and her partner Reid danced with delight in the middle of the fairway before turning to hug their caddies.
The out-of-the-blue eagle helped draw the European duo level with Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson and the quartet will now resume their encounter on Saturday.
Also returning in the morning will be German pair Caroline Masson and Sandra Gal, holding a one-up lead on Brittany Lang and Gerina Piller with three holes to go.
The other afternoon point won by the Europeans came from Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist as the two Swedes crushed Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer 4 and 3.
It was Hull, though, who was the inspiration for Koch’s team with five consecutive back-nine birdies.
“I‘m buzzing,” said the 19-year-old who is from the same Woburn Golf Club as Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter.
“Something happens, I feel like I putt well under pressure at the Solheim.”
The bubbly Hull is a non-stop chatterbox and Reid admitted earlier in the day that she sometimes has to switch off.
“I don’t even listen half the time,” said Reid. “I just let her speak.”
Nocera said Hull was a pleasure to be around.
“She plays great golf but she enjoys life, has good fun and is very funny,” explained the 40-year-old Frenchwoman.
“When I get the jokes I think it’s funny. Sometimes the sense of humor between the English and the French is not exactly the same.”
Earlier, Pressel and Creamer beat Scandinavians Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen 3 and 2 in the foursomes while Thompson and Kerr squeezed past Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher 2 and 1.
Aside from the victory by Hull and Reid, Europe’s other morning point came from Gal and the 46-year-old Catriona Matthew as they defeated Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas 3 and 2.
Editing by Alan Baldwin