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Spaniard keys Europe’s 3-peat


‘I’m so happy’

SPANISH golfer Carlota Ciganda celebrates after powering Team Europe to Solheim Cup victory by beating American star Nelly Korda on Sunday. | JORGE GUERRERO /AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CASARES, Spain (AFP) — Spanish star Carlota Ciganda was the home heroine on Sunday as she birdied the 16th and 17th holes to beat Nelly Korda of the United States and secure the point that ensured Europe retained the Solheim Cup.

Europe, who trailed 4-0 after Friday’s opening session, needed to split the
last-day singles at Finca Cortesin in Spain to gain a tie and retain the team trophy.

American Lexi Thompson beat Europe’s Emily Pedersen in the final match to end a thrilling competition 14-14.

It was the first time that the matches have ended in a draw and the first time Europe has held the Cup three times in row.

Ciganda, all square with three to play, holed from four feet at the 16th and from two feet at the short 17th.

“I’m so happy,” said Ciganda, who was congratulated by Spain’s King Felipe VI, and in turn thanked European captain Suzann Pettersen.

“I love Suzann, I love Spain and I love the Solheim Cup,” said Ciganda, who won all four of her matches.

Pettersen, who famously holed the winning putt at Gleneagles in Scotland four years ago, shed tears of joy.

“It was meant to be for Carlota in Spain,” she said. “I said to her going down 16 is this what you would have wanted, and she said she was up for it.”

Another home star was Caroline Hedwall who turned a three-hole deficit into a two hole win over Ally Ewing.

With the pair all square with two to play, Hedwall sank a 30 foot birdie putt at the 17th.

It was an amazing turnaround for a home side that suffered a 4-0 drubbing on the opening morning foursomes.

“There is no such thing as giving up,” said Pettersen. “We got off to a rough start, but turned it round and there will be a big party tonight.”

The final day started in a tie.

Leona Maguire got the first point on the board with a decisive 4 and 3 victory over Rose Zhang. A star of Europe’s win in Ohio as a rookie two years ago, the Irish woman helped clinch the point by holing a 35-foot eagle at the par four 14th.

Hedwall and Ciganda switched the momentum and Thompson’s 2 and 1 win over Pedersen in the final match was only good enough to make it 14-14.

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