Aug
19
2013
Smackdown at Solheim Cup: Europe completes American thrashing
By Stephanie Wei under Solheim Cup
I think Carlota Ciganda is pumped up!

I think Carlota Ciganda is excited…

Heading into Sunday singles with a five-point deficit, the U.S. team needed nothing short of a miracle to take back the Solheim Cup, but Europe never gave them much of a chance to make a run.

Until Sunday at Colorado Golf Club, the Europeans had never won the Solheim Cup on foreign soil. And they didn’t just win, they clobbered the Americans, with the finally tally: Europe 18, U.S. 10.

The Europeans also broke some records on the way to their rout. Caroline Hedwall became the first player in Solheim Cup history to win all five of her matches. Playing in the fifth singles match against Michelle Wie, Hedwall rolled in four-footer for birdie to secure the 1-up victory and guarantee that the Europeans would retain the Cup. Then, shortly after, Catriona Matthew halved her match against Gerina Piller for the half-point to clinch it.

The other matches continued, but it was long over. In fact, it ended a day earlier when Europe swept the U.S. in the afternoon fourballs on Saturday afternoon.

17-year-old Charley Hull, who was the youngest ever competitor, captured the hearts of fans around the world, regardless of their allegiance — she’s the new darling of golf. She conducted herself with grace and played beyond her years. Hull only let her guard down after she finished *creaming* (sorry, couldn’t resist!) Paula Creamer 5&4 on Sunday in the second match to make an early statement for the Europeans.

This account from Karen Course of the New York Times was very telling in many respects:

After Hull secured her second point of the week, her expression did not change. She walked over to Creamer and they hugged. As they left the green, Hull took out a ball and asked Creamer to autograph it.

“I’m still a fan,” said Hull, who will try to qualify for the L.P.G.A. Tour later this year. “And I’m going to give it to my friend, James, because he’s a big fan.”

Hull, who turned professional in March and finished second in her first five events on the Ladies European Tour, is as old school as Ben Crenshaw, who helped design the course that Hull turned into her debutante stage.

She did not break into a jig after every birdie, but she did pick up Creamer’s ball or marker and hand it to her or her caddie when conceding a putt instead of simply waving her arms or nodding her head as she made her way to the next tee, as the Americans typically did.

Hull has not signed any endorsement deals yet, she said, because she wants to focus on golf during her first year as a pro and does not want her practice time cut short for corporate outings and other commitments that come with big contracts.

The European junior golf system is less organized than the Americans, where we’re playing equivalent of a pro tour (AJGA) starting at age 14. European kids are more versatile because they play in club matches in all sorts of formats with all types of people. Which helps to explain the discrepancy between how the Europeans and Americans grasp match play and etiquette.

And, the fact that Hull hasn’t signed any major endorsements yet is also quite telling. Contrast with Lexi Thompson (which isn’t meant to single her out or be a negative because she’s had lots of success) — who was sporting a Red Bull cap and PUMA outfits nearly the day after she turned pro.

This is the sixth straight Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup that the Americans have lost to the Europeans since 2010. How do we explain this phenomenon? I mentioned this on Twitter, but it’s hard to articulate well — it’s a cultural thing that extends beyond just golf. In general, Americans seem more focused on winning individual titles — number one always comes first.

The biggest reason I believe Europeans excel in team competitions and the match play format is simply experience. There are quite a few clubs in the UK where on certain days the format is foursomes, meaning *everyone* plays alternate shot.

Last month at the Scottish Open, I participated in my first foursomes match ever — and I played nearly 10 years of competitive golf in the junior ranks and then in college — at Nairn because on Saturday mornings at Nairn, that’s the format — no exceptions. It took me a minute to get my head around that because it was so foreign to me, but once I did, I decided it was pretty cool and wished we did stuff like that more in the States.

We could discuss/debate the Europe vs. America topic for ages, so I’ll leave it at that.

Congrats to the European team! Well played, ladies.

Celebrating!

Celebrating!

(Photos via @SolheimCupEuro)