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TOLEDO, Ohio – As controversy swirled around the Inverness Club on Saturday afternoon, a feeling of familiarity followed. These spats and flaps are as much a part of the Solheim Cup as high-fives and first-tee jitters.
As Nelly Korda and Madelene Sagstrom wrapped up their controversial four-ball match, Beth Daniel reminisced about an episode that took place in 1992 at Dalmahoy in Scotland, when she and Betsy King called for a squeegee from just off the green. Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas said that wasn’t allowed, that they needed to be on the green.
As Daniel and King waited for a second opinion, Laura Davies said she’d go ahead and hit, though Daniel said she wasn’t away. When Nicholas told the Americans to “shut it,” King got fiery mad at her good friend.
Daniel said it was ultimately a misunderstanding, but tempers flared.
Controversy has followed the Solheim Cup since the beginning. Here’s a closer look at some of the event’s biggest blowups:
2000: Annika Sorenstam forced to replay a chip
USA captain Pat Bradley turns to Annika Sorenstam of Europe after the Americans accused Anniks of playing her shot out of turn during the completion of the Fourball matches during the 2000 Solheim Cup played at the Loch Lomond GC, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Warren Little/ALLSPORT
Perhaps the most well-known controversy in Solheim Cup history occurred in 2000, when Team USA forced Annika Sorenstam to replay a chip shot after she’d holed it, saying that she’d played out of turn. Sorenstam, who was partnered with Janice Moodie in the four-ball match at Loch Lomond, was squaring off against Pat Hurst and Kelly Robbins. It was captain Pat Bradley who ultimately made the call to have Sorenstam replay the shot. The steely Swede didn’t convert the second time, and Europe ultimately lost the match. Sorenstam was reduced to tears after the round. Years later, Bradley told Golfweek that she wouldn’t change a thing. “I elected to honor the rules of the game,” Bradley said. “That’s all I can say about it. That’s what I fall back on.”
2015: Suzann Pettersen sparks USA’s greatest comeback
Suzann Pettersen of Team Europe explains to team captain Carin Koch the length of the putt that was not conceded on the 17th hole by Alison Lee of Team USA during the continuation of the afternoon fourball matches at The Solheim Cup at St Leon-Rot Golf Club on September 20, 2015, in St Leon-Rot, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
In 2015, Suzann Pettersen galvanized Team USA in a way that face paint and hair ribbons never could. The incident occurred on the 17th green at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in four-balls when rookie Alison Lee picked up an 18-inch putt for par that she thought Europe had conceded. As Charley Hull walked off the green, Pettersen told the group’s rules official that the putt hadn’t been given. The miscommunication resulted in a loss of hole for Lee and partner Brittany Lincicome, who walked to the 18th tee stunned. After the Americans failed to birdie the final hole, Europe closed the match, 2 up. Lee and Hull broke down sobbing. The Americans responded with the biggest come-from-behind victory in Solheim Cup history, with Team USA overcoming a four-point deficit to triumph, winning 8.5 points in singles play Sunday.
2007: Dottie Pepper's hot mic fiasco
Assistant captain Dottie Pepper of the United States watches play during the Friday morning foursomes matches at the Solheim Cup on August 16, 2013, at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Dottie Pepper got her own country fuming when she referred to U.S. players as “chokin’ freakin’ dogs” on-air during Saturday afternoon play in Sweden. A live mic caught the comment when she thought the broadcast had gone to commercial break. The comment was in reference to the number of times the U.S. had lost its lead over the last two holes and walked away with only a half-point. While the verbiage certainly could’ve been better, Pepper did have a point as the U.S. halved six of 16 matches in the foursomes and four-ball sessions after squandering a lead down the stretch. Pepper’s words were the talk of the team room that night, and even Tiger Woods weighed in from the FedEx Cup Tour Championship, saying he didn’t think Pepper would “get a lot of interviews from the players.” In an e-mail to Golfweek that week, Pepper said she was “reacting to what I saw as one who bleeds red, white and blue and a former Solheim Cupper who has gagged a few points away herself in the past. I guess I am guilty as charged with whatever I am being charged with.” Pepper also made a statement about the gaffe 20 minutes into Sunday’s broadcast saying she made a very poor choice of words but stood by the general premise that the U.S. choked in the Saturday foursome session. Team USA ultimately won the competition 16-12. Pepper served as an assistant captain in 2013 but hasn’t again been involved with the U.S. team contingent.
2013: Bad ruling kills USA momentum
Carlota Ciganda of Spain and the European Team takes a ball drop after hitting her second shot into a hazard on the 15th hole during the afternoon four-ball matches at the 2013 Solheim Cup on August 16, 2013, at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. The play was disputed by the United States Team as Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Suzann Pettersen of Norway and the European Team went on to defeat Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson of the United States Team by one hole. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
A botched ruling on the 15th hole brought the proceedings to a halt at Colorado Golf Club, including USA’s momentum. Rules officials took 25 minutes to make a ruling on Friday afternoon in the first four-ball match, ultimately giving Carlota Ciganda 40 yards to make her drop rather than two club-lengths. LPGA officials later admitted to the mistake, which included the work of four, but, according to U.S. captain Meg Mallon, the damage had been done. Stacy Lewis was seen throwing her hands in the air in disgust while talking to an official after the match and didn’t sleep well. “If you know anything about sports,” said Mallon, “momentum is everything.” It was a black eye on the event as frustrated fans chanted, “while we’re young.”
2013: Sorenstam accused of giving advice
Asst. Captain Annika Sorenstam, Captain Liselotte Neumann and Asst. Captain Carlin Koch of the European Team stand on the 17th green during the afternoon Four-Ball matches at the 2013 Solheim Cup on August 16, 2013, at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
On Saturday in Colorado, the Drama Cup heated up more when Sorenstam was accused of giving advice on the seventh hole. (Only captains are allowed to give advice, per the captain’s agreement). A European caddie told Paula Creamer as she stood over the ball that her par putt was good, acting on the words of Sorenstam. Creamer got in a huff with both her opponents and the officials, but the USGA ultimately deemed that Sorenstam had not breached a rule. The Americans won the hole with a birdie, and Mallon called it a moot point. Rules officials again slow-played everyone late in the evening, prompting the Golf Channel to show a close-up of the moon after another 30-minute ruling on No. 16.
2002: Catrin Nilsmark's shocking comments fuel Team USA
European captain, Catrin Nilsmark looks on from the 11th tee box during a practice round of the 2005 Solheim Cup, on September 7, 2005, in Carmel, Indiana. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Catrin Nilsmark wasn't even in the 2002 Solheim Cup but certainly caused a stir after ripping several U.S. players on a Swedish website. Nilsmark referred to Cristie Kerr as a "little brat" and said that Michele Redman had "absolutely no talent." The Associated Press reported that the LPGA posted a translation on its website and distributed copies through the ladies locker room at the Williams Championship in Tulsa. At the start of the 2002 contest, U.S. captain Patty Sheehan said most of the European players had come up to her and apologized. "I know they feel bad – badly, about the comments," said Sheehan, "and, you know, my players, I think initially, felt badly, and they felt like they were being shot at with darts, but I think then as that initial shock wore off, I think we have sort of had fun with it, so not that we need any more motivation to try to win the cup back." Team USA won that contest by winning seven singles matches in a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
2021: Sagstrom picks up overhanging ball in controversial concession
Nelly Korda of Team USA and Madelene Sagstrom of Team Europe during the Foursomes Match on day one of the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club on September 04, 2021 in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Seconds after world No. 1 Nelly Korda dropped to her knees in disbelief after her lengthy eagle putt failed to drop on the par-5 13th, Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom picked up Korda’s ball and tossed it back to her in the afternoon four-ball session at the Inverness Club. Missy Jones, the LPGA rules official on the scene, quickly informed players that Sagstrom had picked up the ball too early, and that because it was overhanging the edge, she was in violation of Rule 13.3b. According to a statement issued by the LPGA, “the chief referee, match referee, observer and TV observer all deemed that Korda’s third shot on No. 13 was overhanging the hole and was picked up by her opponent before the waiting time had ended. Therefore, her third stroke was treated as holed.” Korda was entitled to wait 10 seconds after reaching the hole. Her birdie on the 13th was immediately changed to an eagle, giving Korda and partner Ally Ewing a 1-up lead they never relinquished. The ruling changed the momentum of the afternoon, which had been tipped in Europe’s favor since their morning foursomes thrashing. An emotional Korda called it “the worst way to win a hole.”
2003: A singles session that ended in chaos
Catriona Matthew of Britain (L) and teammate Sophie Gustafson of Sweden celebrates after Matthew sank the last putt of the game to win the Solheim Cup for Europe against The United States at Barseback Golf & Country Club in Loddekopinge September, 2003. (OLA TORKELSSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Once Catriona Matthew defeated Rosie Jones on the 17th hole of the sixth match at Barseback Golf and Country Club, the Cup had officially gone to Europe. What happened next though was unexpected: Three of the five remaining matches were conceded to Europe, giving Europe the largest victory in Solheim history to that point, 17.5 to 10.5. “I came back to support my players in the back groups because I had never seen that happen before, ‘All right, match is over, let's go in,’’ ” said U.S. captain Patty Sheehan. “I've never seen that before. Usually, they sort of play out and if they get to 18 then they can concede there. "It was weird because Beth Daniel was coming back in her match – she had just won two holes in a row and she felt good about things. Cristie (Kerr) was about to go a couple up. All of a sudden, it's like everybody just quit. ... I didn't know what the hell was happening.”