Europe jumps out to Solheim Cup lead over USA

9/4/2021 9:20:05 PM EST

The United States' all-in-the family top pairing was unable to prevent a European onslaught Saturday morning as Team Europe opened strong at the 2021 Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Team USA was able to split the afternoon four-ball session as Europe took a 5 ½-point to 2 ½-point lead into Sunday.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica fell 1 up to the Europe duo of Leona Maguire of Ireland and Mel Reid of England, in one of three matches where the United States failed to take make an impact on the scoreboard. Team USA's half point came when Ally Ewing and Megan Khang tied Europe's Celine Boutier of France and Georgia Hall of England.

In other foursome matches, Team Europe's Matilda Castren of Finland and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden defeated Team USA's Austin Ernst and Danielle Kang 1 up, while Team Europe earned another full point when Charley Hull of England and Emily K. Pedersen of Denmark defeated Brittany Altomare and Lexi Thompson 1 up.

Team Europe is the defending champion of the biennial event and looked every bit the part early Saturday.

Reid and Maguire moved to 2 up on the Korda sisters after six holes and were able to hold on for the point. Nelly and Jessica Korda went undefeated when the United States lost to Europe at Scotland in 2019.

Jessica Korda chipped in from the edge of the 13th green to get the United States to within one, but she missed a birdie putt at 18 to open the door for Europe. Maguire, the first player from Ireland in Solheim Cup history, drained the decisive putt at 18 to earn the point.

"I couldn't have asked for a better start to my Solheim career," Maguire said. "Very lucky to have Mel alongside me. I think everybody had written us off today, and we just sort of took that in our stride and wanted to be as relentless and fearless as possible, and I feel like we did that."

Ernst and Kang had a 1 up lead at the turn for Team USA, but Nordqvist and Castren had three consecutive birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15 to take the lead for good.

Ewing and Khang were 2 up through 16 holes and closing in on a full point for Team USA, before Boutier and Hall won the next two holes to split the point. Team USA found a fairway bunker off the tee at 18, which allowed Team Europe to win the final hole with a par.

Altomare and Thompson also were close to securing a full point for Team USA at 2 up with four holes to play, before Hull and Pedersen won two of the last three holes, with Pedersen making a putt at 18 to win the final hole.

"Nothing feels better than winning a point for Europe. I'm so happy," Pedersen said. "I knew the line and I saw the putt the whole way. I just had to get a little bit of a stroke on it and I knew I was going to."

In the afternoon session, Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing defeated Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madeleine Sagstrom 1 up. Lizette Salas and Jennifer Kupcho also finished 1 up over Carlota Ciganda and Sophia Popov.

However, Anna Nordqvist and Matilda Castren defeated Americans Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigate 4&3, and Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire bested Brittany Altomare and Yealimi Noh 1 up.

Foursomes and four-ball play also will be contested Sunday, with the closing singles matches scheduled for Monday on the 6,903-yard, par-72 Inverness Club course.

-Field Level Media

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