ST LEON-ROT, Germany (Reuters) - Players from both teams were in tears after a controversial incident on the 17th green helped holders Europe take a commanding 10-6 lead over the United States in the 14th Solheim Cup on Sunday.
In one of three fourballs that had spilled over from Saturday night, American rookie Alison Lee missed a birdie putt from 10 feet that would have put her and Brittany Lincicome one up on Charley Hull and Suzann Pettersen.
The ball went 16 inches past the cup and Lee scooped it up, believing it was an automatic concession from the European pair.
Hull seemed to be walking off the green in acknowledgement of a halved hole but her Norwegian partner Pettersen then made it clear that the short putt had not been given.
The fact the Americans had picked up the ball without the Europeans conceding the putt meant the match referee had no choice but to award the hole to the home team.
Hull and Pettersen went on to win the 18th hole as well but the 19-year-old Englishwoman was in tears on the green after the match finished, as was a distraught Lee.
The unsavoury scenes immediately cast a dark cloud over the biennial team event.
Britain’s Laura Davies, who has played in every Solheim Cup bar two since the competition was launched in 1990 and is commentating on this year’s event for Sky Sports, described the incident as “disgusting”.
“She (Pettersen) has let herself down and she has certainly let her team down,” said Davies. “I am so glad I’m not on that team this time.”
Meg Mallon, captain of the U.S. side beaten in Colorado two years ago, was similarly critical.
“This is tough,” said Mallon on her Twitter account. “It’s not the spirit of the Solheim family.
“This is a game and somehow we lose perspective in these matches. #sad.”
It is the second successive morning there has been friction between the sides.
On Saturday, U.S. captain Juli Inkster and European counterpart Carin Koch were involved in a heated exchange out on the course.
It appeared as though the American was unhappy that one of Koch’s vice-captains may have given direct advice to one of the European players.
Under Solheim Cup rules only the captain can give direct advice to one of her team members.
Europe, bidding to win the cup for the third edition in a row, now need only four points from Sunday’s 12 singles to retain the trophy.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty