LONDON (Reuters) - Europe’s captain Carin Koch is still unhappy about the incident that marred the final day of the Solheim Cup in September and the Swede said on Tuesday she might handle ‘gimmegate’ differently if she had the chance again.
Tempers at the biennial team event, the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup, flared as then-world number eight Suzann Pettersen of Norway refused to concede a 16-inch putt to Alison Lee and the American picked her ball up on the 17th green.
That left the referee no option but to award the hole to Pettersen and morning fourballs partner Charley Hull, leading to victory for the pair against Lee and Brittany Lincicome and accusations of a lack of sportsmanship by the European team.
“It’s easy to say now going back,” Koch told Sky Sports, referring to a question about how she could have handled the incident better.
“It just happened so fast. If there was any chance to slow it down a bit, discuss what happened, if that could have been possible, that probably would have been the one thing.
“I’m sad that it overshadowed the great moments we had and the great golf we played. That has been overshadowed by one putt on Sunday morning,” added Koch.
“The only thing we could do is give them the last hole. I did say to Suzann that was an option but she didn’t want to, so I just really had to back my number one player at that stage.”
Koch said ‘gimmegate’, as the incident was later described by the BBC, was all the incentive the Americans needed to stage a remarkable comeback from 10-6 down to snatch victory by 14 1/2 points to 13 1/2.
“They didn’t need any more inspiration to go out on the Sunday afternoon,” she added.
Koch said at least ‘gimmegate’ had given women’s golf international exposure for a week.
“I was in a taxi in London a few weeks ago and the driver saw my golf clubs and the Solheim Cup logo on my travel bag and he started asking me if I saw what happened,” the Swede explained.
“I said to him that I was sort of there. But I’m not sure he would have heard about it otherwise, any media (coverage) is positive I guess.”
Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Toby Davis