US completes wire-to-wire Solheim Cup victory over Europe
US completes wire-to-wire Solheim Cup victory over Europe
Captain Annika Sorenstam and her team will likely spend their trip back across the Atlantic wondering when they will be ready to compete with the US again.
Lexi Thompson, 22, and her resurgent US teammates finished off their most-decisive Solheim Cup victory in more than 20 years, beating Europe 16 1/2-11 1/2 on Sunday at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Though Europe played the US even on Sunday, the Americans dominated foursome and four-ball play to put the Europeans in a major hole.
The Americans are now 10-5 in the biennial tournament after their biggest win since a 17-11 triumph in 1996 in Wales. They rallied to win in Germany in 2015 and have taken five of the last seven matches — the exception being that 18-10 blowout that Europe handed the US in Colorado in 2013.
“We just got outplayed, no doubt about it,” Sorenstam said. “I’m just so proud of how hard they fought. What can I say? Just congratulate the USA because they played some awesome golf.”
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer won key matches, and Gerina Piller sealed it with a birdie putt that put her 3 up over Florentyna Parker with three to play in a 4-and-2 victory.
“They just bonded. They believed in each other. They played for the person behind them and in front of them. And they played some amazing golf,” said Juli Inkster, who joined Judy Rankin as the only US captains to win the Solheim Cup twice.
Kerr beat Mel Reid 2 and 1 for her record-extending 21st point in the competition, and Creamer edged Georgia Hall 1 up to raise her total to 19 1/2 — second on the US career list.
Thompson ended up halving with Anna Nordqvist, and Angel Yin halved with Karine Icher as the teams split the 12 singles matches. Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang also won for the US. Salas edged Jodi Ewart Shadoff 1 up, and Kang beat Emily Pedersen 3 and 1.
For Europe, Catriona Matthew beat Stacy Lewis 1 up, Caroline Masson topped Michelle Wie 4 and 2, Charley Hull edged Brittany Lang 1 up, Carlota Ciganda beat Brittany Lincicome 4 and 3, and Madelene Sagstrom defeated Austin Ernst 3 and 2.
Her team five points down entering the day, Sorenstam tried to keep the mood light by dressing up in a blue and yellow Viking hat and wig and dancing for the cameras before play began.
Nordqvist did her best to set the tone for the Europeans in the opening match, winning the first four holes.
But after a birdie on No. 10, Thompson holed out from 112 yards for eagle on the 11th hole — a shot so impressive that even Nordqvist was compelled to high-five her.
Thompson followed with an eagle putt on the 15th hole, and a birdie on 16 put her ahead for the first time. Though Nordqvist rallied, earning the half-point by sticking her 154-yard approach on No. 18 within a foot, an American win was inevitable after Thompson’s run.
Europe also knows that they’ll likely have to deal with Thompson — the highest-rated player in the event — for a long time.
“To me, that was like six points,” Inkster said. “It’s probably fitting they both got half a point. Both played amazingly. It just shows the heart of her and her determination. You think she’s out of it and then the switch goes off.”
Europe knew it would be a big underdog heading into the tournament, especially after star Suzann Pettersen threw out her back and withdrew. But the 47-year-old Matthew was 3-1 after replacing the injured Suzann Pettersen.
Nordqvist went 3-0-1 during the week to lead the Europeans.
Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend
- Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
- Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region
LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.