Europe rally to dominate US in Solheim Cup

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World number one Nelly Korda lines up a putt for the United States on the opening day of the Solheim Cup competition against Europe (AFP/Gregory Shamus)
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Europe edged into a three-point lead over the United States at the Solheim Cup on Saturday as a controversial ruling helped world number one Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing grab a crucial victory.

Europe, chasing only their second ever victory on US soil in the biennial team tournament, got off to a flying start at Toledo's Inverness Club in Ohio, winning three of the four opening foursomes.

That handed Europe captain Catriona Matthew's team a commanding 3 1/2 point to 1/2 point lead before the afternoon fourballs were squared at two wins apiece.

It means Europe will take a 5 1/2 to 2 1/2 lead into Sunday's second day of foursomes and fourballs.

The Americans' two afternoon fourball wins included Korda and Ewing's 1-up victory over Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madelene Sagstrom, with Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas defeating Carlota Ciganda and Sophia Popov by the same margin to claim the other US win.

However Korda and Ewing's win came tinged by controversy, with a crucial intervention by the rules official on the 13th hole effectively deciding the match.

Korda and Ewing had recovered from a slow start, when they went two down after two holes, to square the match after 12.

Then on the par-five 13th, Korda saw her curling putt for an eagle to win the hole finish on the lip of the cup.

Sagstrom reached down to grab Korda's ball after giving her opponent the tap-in.

However Sagstrom had failed to wait the required 10 seconds after Korda's ball had stopped before she picked it up, and rules official Missy Jones informed the players that therefore the eagle should be awarded to Korda.

That left the American duo 1-up, and they never relinquished the lead to hold on for a potentially crucial full point.

- 'Definitely awkward' -

"It was definitely awkward," Korda said afterwards. "You don't want to win a hole like that. I got off the green and we kind of were talking and Missy (Jones, rules official) said 'I'm calling it in. I want to check it out'.

"So we didn't even have a say honestly. We just told ourselves just focus on golf, take it one shot at a time, and see if we can finish it off."

By that stage Europe had already added to their morning points tally with newly crowned British Women's Open champion Anna Nordqvist and partner Matilda Castren routing Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigae 4&3.

Kupcho and Salas got another win on the board for the US, with Salas nailing a birdie putt on the last to win.

But Europe closed the day on a high with Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire defeating Yealimi Noh and Brittany Altomare 1-up to restore the Europeans' three-point buffer.

Earlier, the Europeans had got off to a dream start after winning three of the four morning foursomes and halving the other.

All four matches were decided on the final hole, with the Europeans staging a late rally after it appeared the US women seemed poised to enjoy the better of the opening skirmishes.

Nordqvist got Europe's first points on the board, tapping in a three-foot par putt to give her and rookie partner Castren a 1-up victory over Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst.

Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall then staged a dramatic late fightback from two down with two to play to halve their match with Ewing and Megan Khang, depriving the US of a full point.

Mel Reid and Maguire upset the Korda sisters Nelly and Jessica to win 1-up in their game, Jessica Korda missing a long birdie putt to halve the match.

Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen then won the remaining foursome after a roller-coaster battle with Thompson and Altomare, recovering from two down with four holes to play.

Pedersen and Hull squared the match with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes, and then grabbed a birdie on the last to win.

Eight more foursome and fourball matches will be played on Sunday, with 12 concluding singles matches on Monday.