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Europe takes 5-3 lead in Solheim Cup

The SportsXchange

PARKER, Colo. -- Carlota Ciganda regrouped after a wayward shot to help the European women take a 5-3 lead over the Americans on Friday in the first of three days of match-play competition in the Solheim Cup at the Colorado Golf Club.

The Americans, meanwhile, were trying to understand the officials' reasoning in awarding Ciganda a favorable drop.

Team captains from both squads were meeting with rules officials to try gain clarity on the ruling following the afternoon's four "Four Ball" matches, which were split by the teams after the Americans dropped three of four in the morning matches.

Europe's Suzann Pettersen and Ciganda were 1-up winners over Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson but not without controversy over the drop on the par-5 15th hole.

Ciganda, who had struggled all day in her long and short game, put her second shot into a rolling stand of trees and scrub brush. In a confusing sequence, course officials took some 20 minutes to sort out the appropriate spot for her drop.

Eventually, she was allowed to take a drop on the fairway and got her fourth shot within 12 feet of the hole. She ended up saving par, keeping the match all squared after Lewis missed a birdie putt.

One hole later, on the 16th, Pettersen made a birdie to give the Europeans a one-stroke advantage, which they hung on to the rest of the way to win the match.

"Carlota, she was a superstar," Pettersen said. "She hung in there tough. I'm proud of her."

Ciganda conceded she didn't play her best golf.

"It was very stressful at the time," she said, adding, "It was a great match and we won. And that's the most important."

Americans Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie beat Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull, at 17 the youngest to play in the Solheim Cup, 2 and 1. Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome also earned a point for the Americans, beating Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas 4 and 3 after Lang buried a short birdie putt on the par-5 15th.

Lang produced a big shot to put the match firmly in their control on the 14th when she holed a shot from a bunker on the fringe of the green.

The "drop" controversy overshadowed some exceptional golf, particularly by Wie, who helped silence any lingering criticism over her selection to the team by U.S. captain Meg Mallon.

Wie stoked momentum for her team when she chipped in a long-distance birdie putt on the par-4 13th hole from beyond the edge of the green. Wie pumped her fist and shared a celebratory hand slap and hug with Kerr after the ball dropped in the hole.

"When it went in, we just went crazy," Wie said. "I think we really needed that and it felt awesome."

Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson took another afternoon match for Europe with a 2-and-1 victory over Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller.

Europe won the last Solheim Cup in Ireland two years ago, but the Americans are 6-0 in Solheim Cup play in the United States.

The European squad got off to a strong start by taking three of the four morning matches in "Foursome" play.

Jessica Korda and Morgan Pressel accounted for the lone U.S. point from the morning session when they beat Matthew and Jodi Ewart Shadoff 3 and 2.

"I think we both played well out there today," said Pressel, who teamed up with Korda for birdie putts on the 11th and 13th holes to pull away. "We were a little shaky early, a little bit nervous. But we didn't make many mistakes, and we were able to make some really good par-saving putts."

Swedish golfers Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall put the first point on the board for Europe when they defeated Lewis and Lizette Salas 4 and 2 in the opening match.

Norway's Pettersen and Spain's Beatriz Recari gave Europe its second point when they beat Texans Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford 2 and 1.

A 2-and-1 victory by Azahara Munoz of Spain and Karine Icher of France against Kerr and Paula Creamer rounded out the morning session. Munoz and Icher strung together consecutive birdies on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 to seize the momentum in the match.

"We played well from the beginning and we had an amazing stretch on 8, 9 and 10 making bombs. That was huge for us," Munoz said.

Creamer said problems in their short game cost them.

"We just didn't make a putt," Creamer said. "We had so many lip-outs and it's just that's the way it was."
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