Solheim Cup squared up as Europe rallies to tie Americans entering final day in Spain

AP photo by Bernat Armangue / Team Europe member Maja Stark, right, hugs playing partner Linn Grant after they beat the United States' Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee in a foursome match at the Solheim Cup on Saturday in Casares, Spain.

CASARES, Spain — Led by home-crowd favorite Carlota Ciganda, Europe picked up the pace at the Solheim Cup to pull even with the United States entering the third and final day's decisive singles matches.

Ciganda, the only Spaniard on the European roster, won both of her matches Saturday to maintain a perfect record as Europe drew level with the U.S. at 8-8 after splitting the morning foursomes and winning the afternoon fourballs.

Captain's pick Emily Pedersen of Denmark and rookie Linn Grant of Sweden also won both of their matches Saturday to help Europe come from behind at Finca Cortesin.

The contest will be decided by the 12 singles matches on Sunday, when Europe will try to win an unprecedented third straight Solheim Cup. The Europeans arrived as favorites on their own turf, but they had to rally after the Americans took a 4-0 lead in Friday's first session.

"I'm out of words, but we have to remember we are not there yet, there are still 12 points up for grabs tomorrow," said Europe captain Suzann Pettersen of Norway. "We made quite a comeback, now we are tied, and we'll put it in fifth gear and keep going. If you look at how we started after yesterday's morning, we've come a long way."

The U.S. kept its two-point lead from the first day after the teams split Saturday's morning session, but Europe was in control during most of the afternoon and ended up winning it 3-1.

"We certainly would have liked to have won a few more points today, but I'm not upset about our position," U.S. team captain Stacy Lewis said. "I mean, if you look straight at the scoreboard, you would say momentum goes to Europe, but I can tell you the way the girls feel and the way I feel about how we played today, I like our momentum."

Lewis rested some of her players Saturday and none will be playing the maximum five matches in the event.

Pettersen will have three players going all the way for Europe: Grante, Pedersen and Ireland's Leona Maguire.

The Europeans sealed Saturday's victory when Ciganda and Grant defeated Danielle Kang and Lilia Vu 2 and 1 in a match in which both teams made plenty of birdies. Ciganda and Grant were 8 under par through nine holes but only 1 up over the Americans. Grant made six birdies in a row to start the match, and Ciganda had a clutch birdie on the 16th to help Europe seal the win.

"So, so happy for Carlota to come here to Spain, literally bring her 'A' game. She's been under a lot of pressure, probably mostly from herself. But the way she's handled it so far has been very, very impressive," Pettersen said. "That match in the afternoon between Carlota, Linn and the Americans was just unbelievable to watch."

Ciganda is the only player to win all of her matches. She won three straight sessions after sitting out the first one Friday.

"Playing in Spain in front of my family, home crowd, friends, I just love it," Ciganda said. "I'm embracing this week. I think it's been great. I still have a big day tomorrow, but I'm just trying to enjoy it."

Maguire and England's Charley Hull earlier defeated Ally Ewing and Nelly Korda, 4 and 3. Maguire, who thrived in her Solheim Cup debut two years ago, made birdies on nearly half of her holes.

"Suzann was pretty clear on what our job was today, so mission accomplished," Maguire said. "One more day to give it our best shot, and I think that's the great thing about this team, there's so much fight in this team. We've never given up."

The Americans won their lone point in the afternoon when Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin finished 2 up against Swedish veterans Caroline Hedwall — who had not played previously this week — and Anna Nordqvist, one of the vice captains for Europe.

Pedersen, playing in her fourth consecutive session, teamed up with Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom for a 2 and 1 win over Andrea Lee and Rose Zhang.

"I think Emily's a great pick, isn't she?" Pettersen said. "I think she's done fairly well."

In the morning, Swedish rookies Grant and Maja Stark kept it close for Europe by making crucial birdie putts on their final two holes to help the hosts keep the deficit at 7-5. Grant and Stark defeated Kang and Lee 1 up in the final group to secure a 2-2 split.

"I think we came out with a more aggressive mindset today. Losing yesterday was not fun. Our first loss ever," Grant said. "So we kind of had a different view of it today and just went out and crushed it from the start."

Europe got the first point Saturday with Ciganda and Pedersen winning 2 and 1 against Jennifer Kupcho and Vu, who is No. 2 in the women's world ranking but has yet to win a match at Finca Cortesin.

Korda, ranked No. 3 in the world, and U.S. Women's Open champion Allisen Corpuz gave the U.S. its first point Saturday by cruising 5 and 3 past France's Celine Boutier and England's Georgia Hall in the final morning group. Boutier, the top-ranked European who was playing some of the best golf ahead of the Solheim Cup, remains winless.

U.S. veteran Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang picked up their second win by defeating Maguire and Nordqvist 1 up, but the American duo was rested in the afternoon session.