(Reuters) - With Swedes Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall setting the tone in the first match, holders Europe seized a 3-1 lead over the United States after Friday morning’s opening foursomes at the 13th Solheim Cup in Parker, Colorado.
The statuesque Nordqvist rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at the par-five 16th to seal a 4&2 win over Women’s British Open champion Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas, earning the first point for Europe on a sunny day at the Colorado Golf Club.
World number three Suzann Pettersen and Cup rookie Beatriz Recari of Spain followed suit with a 2&1 victory over Americans Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford, a sizzling putting display by the Norwegian making the difference in a tight match.
Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda put the first red number on the board for the U.S., beating Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff 3&2, before Europe ended a memorable morning with Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher upsetting Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer 2&1.
Former major winners Kerr and Creamer, playing in the anchor match as the most experienced U.S. duo, had not previously lost in three encounters together but were undone as their opponents took control with three successive birdies from the eighth.
“We just didn’t seem to get any momentum right off the bat,” said Kerr who is playing in her seventh Solheim Cup.
“We missed a couple of greens and they threw some long bombs at us on eight, nine and 10. We really didn’t get the momentum until the last few holes and then it’s too late,” she said greenside.
Europe are bidding to win the trophy on American soil for the first time and Nordqvist and Hedwall gave the visitors a perfect start as they dovetailed superbly in the top match.
“We have been playing pretty solid the last couple of weeks and I think we were both very excited,” said Nordqvist, 26.
“It feels like both our forms are really good. It was just so much fun out there today.”
Lewis, who made her Solheim Cup debut two years ago at Killeen Castle in Dunsany, Ireland where Europe beat the U.S. 15-13 to regain the trophy, paid tribute to the Swedish duo.
“They played great,” said the 28-year-old Lewis. “They were fairway and green every time.
“It never looked like they were ever going to make bogey. They put a lot of pressure on us.
“We had a couple of putts lip out and not go our way so we’ve got to go out there this afternoon and really go after it,” added Lewis, referring to Friday’s fourball matches.
Pettersen, a veteran of seven Solheim Cups, was a dominant figure as she and 26-year-old Spaniard Recari outplayed Lang and Stanford in the second match.
“It will be a day that I will never forget,” said rookie Recari. “This is just so much bigger than anything you can experience. You don’t feel as much pressure as you do here at the Solheim Cup.
“It was great to play with Suzann. She just played amazing today and putted incredibly well. We’re just really happy to get another point for Europe.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Tony Jimenez