(Reuters) - Inspired by Norway’s world number three Suzann Pettersen who won her first two matches, holders Europe seized control of the 13th Solheim Cup to lead the United States 5-3 after the opening day in Parker, Colorado.
Pettersen putted superbly in the morning’s foursomes at Colorado Golf Club as Europe opened up a surprise 3-1 advantage, then virtually single-handedly paved the way to a second victory in the afternoon fourballs, which were split 2-2 overall.
In tandem with Cup rookie Beatriz Recari of Spain, Pettersen won a tight foursomes match 2&1 against Americans Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford before linking up with another Spaniard, Carlota Ciganda, to beat Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson one up.
“This competition never gets old,” smiled the 32-year-old Pettersen, who is competing in her seventh Solheim Cup along with six rookies on the European team. “It just brings out the best of you.
“I am really enjoying playing with these youngsters. I am so proud of them. And Carlota, she was a super star. She hung in there tough. This was a fantastic point.”
Pettersen and Ciganda earned Europe’s fifth and final point of the day as they recovered from two down at the turn to beat Women’s British Open champion Lewis and Thompson in the first fourball match out.
The Americans had claimed the first point of the afternoon when Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang came back from one down after five holes to beat Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas 4&3.
“We always play well together,” said Lang, who sank a four-foot putt at the par-five 15th to seal victory. “We have similar personalities, we have fun out there and we feed off each other.
“We did a really good job today when one person wasn’t doing too well to pick up the slack. That’s clutch.”
Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson never trailed before winning a close contest against Americans Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller 2&1 and the U.S. levelled the fourballs when Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie beat Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull 2&1.
“I played really, really well and made a lot of putts,” said Kerr. “I just tried to keep us in there, make a big putt when I needed to and I did that a few times.”
However, the tone for the day was set in the first match out when Swedes Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall earned Europe’s first point with a 4&2 win over Lewis and Lizette Salas.
“We have been playing pretty solid the last couple of weeks and I think we were both very excited,” said the statuesque Nordqvist, 26. “It feels like both our forms are really good. It was just so much fun out there today.”
Pettersen and Recari followed suit with their victory over Lang and Stanford before Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda put the first red number on the board for the U.S., beating Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff 3&2.
Europe, who are bidding to win the trophy on American soil for the first time, ended a memorable morning when Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher upset the heavyweight U.S. duo of Kerr and Paula Creamer 2&1.
Former major winners Kerr and Creamer, playing in the anchor match, 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 also 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.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Tony Jimenez/Ian Ransom