Heading into Sunday tied at eight apiece, the 2019 Solheim Cup looked destined to be a nail-biter. The continents were neck-and-neck through the Sunday Singles before a flurry of American points via Angel Yin, Jessica Korda & Brittany Altmore opened up a bit of daylight. When Anne van Dam missed her birdie putt on 18, Lizette Salas took the Americans to 13.5 points. She, along with her teammates, celebrated as if victory were sealed. However, Anna Nordqvist’s comprehensive 4&3 over Morgan Pressel meant that this was not the case.
Bronte Law had conceded a 1UP lead three times through the front nine and found herself one down to Ally McDonald on the 14th. She levelled things up there, and an expertly executed birdie putt on 16 got the adrenaline pumping; Law celebrating with a scream that excited the crowd nearly as much as the putt itself. Suzann Pettersen, the wildest of wildcard picks, found herself on the 18th tee tied with Marina Alex, knowing a win could potentially clinch the cup.
News filtered through that McDonald had missed her par putt on 17, meaning Bronte Law won 2&1 and things were tied at 13.5 each. The tournament came down to the final hole. A near-perfect approach from Pettersen left about 6 feet for birdie, but Alex wasn’t much further away. It was sudden-death. Two putts; one to win, one to lose. Alex stepped up first, and a nervy ten-footer fell away to the right to leave Pettersen with an all-or-nothing putt.
Of course she nailed it.
One Giant Leap for Women’s Golf
Golf does not get better than this. Fans could not have asked for more, and the players could not have delivered any more. The obligatory cliché of writing history was repeated on TV and circulated social media for hours after that finale, but this moment was not about history; it was about the future. Pettersen retired in the immediate aftermath, but she has not left the game behind; she’s propelled it forwards like never before. Don’t be fooled, Captain Catriona Matthew’s decision to pick Pettersen was an enormous risk, but the rewards will be felt far beyond this biannual tournament.
Whilst Pettersen will receive all the plaudits, Bronte Law’s slaying of Ally McDonald in a crunch moment has drawn comparisons to Ian “The Postman” Poulter thanks to a combination of brilliant golf and ferocious competitive spirit. I don’t particularly like to routinely compare everything in the women’s game to its male counterpart, but this did feel like a crowd-drawing prospect. Georgia Hall & Celine Boutier combined to win 3/3 in the Friday & Saturday Foursomes and Saturday Fourballs before both went on to win their Sunday Singles for matching 100% records over four matches. Add to that the likes of Anne van Dam & Charley Hull, and suddenly you’ve got a contingent of young, exciting European prospects.
Not only was this a fantastic moment in the present; it created history and promised so much for the future.
Written by Joseph Carabini