ON SUNDAY, when it
was over at Halmstad Golf Club in southwest Sweden, after the Americans had
braved some of the worst weather any of them had ever played in, to win their
seventh Solheim Cup (and their second on foreign soil) by a score of 16 points
to Europe's 12, one of the U.S. players did a celebratory cartwheel on the
practice green. The player wasn't 21-year-old Paula Creamer, who had turned one
just like it in front of the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews at last month's
Women's British Open. Nor was it 24-year-old Natalie Gulbis, a former gymnast.
Going heels over head was Juli Inkster, the 47-year-old mother of two who had
just completed her seventh Solheim Cup. "In golf," said U.S. assistant
captain Beth Daniel, "we're all the same age."
punctuated that point, which the predominantly twentysome-thing American team
had made clear all week: Even though the U.S. sported a generation gap, the
team was ageless inside the ropes. Youngsters like Creamer and 19-year-old
Morgan Pressel, a Solheim Cup rookie, played with the steely purpose of wizened
veterans, while seasoned pros such as Inkster, 44-year-old Sherri Steinhauer
and Pat Hurst, 38, exhibited the same enthusiasm they had in their first Cups,
which in Inkster's case was in 1992, when Pressel was four. Most important, the
Americans all embraced the team spirit that seems to elude their Ryder Cup
brethren. "This team gets along so well, it's unbelievable," said the
50-year-old Daniel. "I love being around Natalie and Paula and Morgan. I
get along with everyone even though I'm older than some of their
Some players did
play age-related roles during the week. For instance, if anyone on the U.S.
team had technology issues or needed something downloaded, she went to Pressel,
"our computer geek," said Inkster. And yes, it was Pressel, only a year
removed from high school, who had provided the team with patriotic face
stickers, personalized red-and-blue hair ribbons and a mixed rap CD with a song
list that was probably foreign to most people born before the Watergate
hearings. But Inkster, who has two teenage daughters, recognized the tunes, as
did Daniel, who may be the biggest rap fan on the team. "I listen almost
exclusively to hip-hop, which people find hard to believe," she says.
Daniel also made
the players a mix. The song list on her CD had a few pointed references to the
team's mission and personality, including Glamorous by Fergie, and This Is How
We Do It by Montell Jordan. "I also put Big Girls Don't Cry," said
Daniel. "That one was for Morgan."
youngest American and one known for showing her emotions, didn't cry, flinch or
even blink all week. In her first match, while paired with Gulbis in
Friday-morning foursomes, Pressel was spared the nerve-racking assignment of
going first in front of the singing, chanting, flag-waving crowd on the 1st tee
and worked out whatever nerves she had during a 3-and-2 loss to Maria Hjorth
and Gwladys Nocera. During Friday afternoon four-balls, Pressel and Creamer
showed composure beyond their years when Laura Davies, playing with Trish
Johnson, squared their match by making the "par of the century," as
Pressel put it, on the 179-yard par-3 16th, one of the most infamous holes in
Facing her third
straight loss to Creamer in Solheim Cup matches (including a 7-and-5 drubbing
in singles in 2005 and a foursomes loss to Creamer and Inkster on Friday
morning), Davies, the only golfer to play in all 10 Solheim Cups, stepped onto
the elevated tee at 16 and pushed her shot deep into a cluster of trees below.
Finding her ball in a root-entangled downhill lie, Davies made a hack that she
called "a 36 handicapper's shot," nearly falling on her face with the
effort. As she recovered and readjusted her visor, she saw her ball sail
through the trees, over a stream and onto the fringe between two bunkers on the
opposite side of the narrow green, 50 feet from the hole. From there she
stunned the Americans, and no doubt herself, by chipping in. Davies admitted
that she had been feeling sorry for herself and Johnson, who had also gone fore
right off the tee, as they crunched through the woods. "But all of a sudden
it worked out for us," she said. "I hacked it out of that bush and
chipped in, and [the Americans] both missed. Things like that happen in golf.
It's lovely when they do."
Davies's par won
the hole, and after Creamer and Pressel conceded a putt on 18 in the midst of
one of the day's frequent squalls, gave the Europeans a halve that kept them
within a point of the Americans going into Saturday's matches.
IF FRIDAY'S biting
wind and drenching rain were vicious—when asked to compare the ferocity of the
elements with the weather in her home state of Florida, Cristie Kerr came up
with Hurricane Andrew—Saturday's forecast was worse. There were no clouds or
raindrops on the Halmstad weather graphic for the day, only horizontal lines
that looked like a cartoon rocket blast.
winds kicked up overnight and scattered debris about the course, forcing a
delay of more than two hours at the start of the morning's foursomes matches.
The two sides eventually split the session, but the lost time resulted in the
afternoon's first four-ball match making it through only 11 holes before play
was called on account of darkness. When the matches were resumed in a soggy
rain on Sunday morning, Europe had its best session, winning two of the four
matches and halving the others to take an 8�—7 1/2; lead. Standing on the 18th
green after her match, Inkster, who along with Stacy Prammanasudh salvaged a
halve against Johnson and Iben Tinning, couldn't remember playing through three
straight days of such punishing conditions. "It's hard to showcase women's
golf in this weather," she said. "It's simply survival. You bunt it
down the middle; you try to bunt it on the green. It would be nice for people
to see some birdies."
The people finally
did in the afternoon, once the rain stopped. The birdies came courtesy of
America's four rookies, who combined for 14 in the singles matches.
Prammanasudh, 27, made six against Suzann Pettersen. After squaring the match
with a birdie on 13, Prammanasudh pulled ahead with a par on the troublesome
16th, then sealed her point with another birdie on 18, becoming the first
American to win a point on the hole.