It was not a coincidence, according to Dame Laura Davies, that Carlota Ciganda of Spain ensured Europe would keep the Solheim Cup on the Costa del Sol, she played in the tournament.
One of the most exciting things that she has ever seen, according to Britain’s most enduring and accomplished female golfer, was the exhilarating finish to the continent’s defense of the trophy. She ranks it as one of the most exciting things that she has ever seen.
And it is beyond the scope of plausible debate to disagree with Davies’ view.
Ciganda’s amazing birdies on the 16th and 17th holes at Finca Cortesin to beat Nelly Korda in the last round caused wild celebrations among exuberant European spectators. Nelly Korda was the player Ciganda defeated to go to the final match.
Another one of Solheim’s nail-biters, this one was let down only by the sloppy organization at the Spanish venue and the inadequate funding for the television broadcast. Both the players and the supporters were due a better outcome.
After a 14-14 tie with Stacy Lewis’ tenacious Americans, Europe’s dynamic dozen, which was led by the Norwegian skipper Suzann Pettersen, didn’t seem to care too much as they continued to party late into Sunday night.
After Ciganda caused the rowdy and regal celebrations close to the 17th green, Davies said to BBC Sport, “It was amazing, wasn’t it?” Ciganda’s victory had spurred the festivities.
At the very beginning of preparations for the first-ever Solheim Cup to be played on Spanish land, it was decided that the Spaniard would be given the opportunity to become the hero of Europe. “That’s why we put her there,” stated Davies in response to your question.
“We anticipated that the final two matches would be very significant. It turned out that matches 10 and 11 were the ones that truly mattered.
“We entertained the possibility that she would sink the winning putt. In its current state, it served as the retaining putt. It doesn’t get much better than the fact that Carlotta was there as well as the fact that the monarch was standing by the green.
Ciganda was brought back to even after 15 holes by Korda, who then sent an accurate approach shot to within six feet on the 16th hole to tie the match. But then, fate got a dramatic hold of the situation.
The Spaniard, who is 33 years old and hails from Pamplona, sent thousands of fans across Europe into raptures when she smashed her second shot into tap-in range. When she made the putt that put her back in the lead, the volume was turned up to a higher setting.
After a few moments, Ciganda’s tee shot on the par-three 17th nearly dislodged the stick from the hole, and Korda was eliminated from the competition, which resulted in complete anarchy. The luck of the home team was finally on their side on a day that was filled with unending changes.
“For excitement, it probably has to be one on the best ever,” said Davies of this riveting competition, who participated in a dozen Solheim Cups, including the competition’s debut encounter in 1990. “For excitement, it probably has to be one on the best ever.”
The golfer who has won an incredible 87 titles believes that the heroics that Pettersen displayed at Gleneagles four years ago, when the Norwegian sunk the victory putt in the final match on the course, are the only ones that can compare to what happened over the past weekend.
“I think Suzann Pettersen’s putt on 18 in Scotland was number one, but this is probably number two in Solheim stuff,” Davies said. “This is probably number two in terms of Solheim stuff.”
“Of course, we were aware that we only required 14, and as soon as we reached that number, we began the celebrations,” she said. At one point, I was having trouble locating the six points that we required.
“We kept looking at the list, and then Caroline Hedwall turned it around [against Ally Ewing] with that amazing finish. And that was the extra half of a point that we couldn’t find, and she found it.”
Pettersen’s decision to select the player ranked 122 in the world as one of her wildcard selections was validated by Hedwall’s incredible victory, which she achieved despite being three holes down with six to play.
“Because she had previous participation in the Solheim Cup, she was chosen to be one of the captain’s picks. It makes no difference how great you’re playing; the Solheim Cup is an extremely unique event, and she understood at that point that she could really turn it on.
“And we’ve seen her do it year after year in the Solheim, and she did it again,” we said. “And she did it again.”
Despite Georgia Hall and Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland falling from winning positions, the European team room was filled with heroes. Both British players were able to secure halves when it appeared that wins were more possible.
Leona Maguire of Ireland secured Europe’s first point with an inspiring 4&3 victory over Rose Zhang, who was competing in her maiden international competition. The tenacious Irishwoman has participated in every session of each of her Solheim Cups.
Only twice has the 28-year-old golfer from County Cavan, Ireland been defeated, with one of those defeats coming in the opening alternate shot foursomes last Friday, when Europe was beaten 4-0.
On this incredibly hilly track, Maguire gives it her all and appears to be fueled by the most powerful and long-lasting internal batteries. She dominates the competition. Davies noted that neither Leona nor her caddie, Dermot Byrne, showed any signs of fatigue during their round.
They are only interested in adding points to the board for us. It is not necessary for her to be one of the hitters with the longest strides. She is very precise, she has a lot of heart, and she has demonstrated once more that she is one of the greatest.
And as far as sporting events go, the Solheim Cup was without a doubt one of the most impressive that we have ever seen. However, a significant number of viewers would have left the event having experienced an encounter that was less than satisfying.
There were crazy lines for food outlets that were severely understocked, and there was no drinkable water available for bottle refills. At the beginning of the week, a number of people shared accounts about how security personnel had taken their food, drink, and sunscreen when they arrived.
There was very little cover available to provide relief from the oppressive heat, and despite the fact that the course included some breathtaking holes and views, it was just too tough to navigate on foot. In all honesty, it was not suitable for the job at hand.
When moving from one hole to the next, spectators regularly found themselves caught in bottlenecks and logjams. The designated taxi system that was supposed to carry spectators to and from the course, which was perched on the side of a hill overlooking the Costa del Sol, was a complete and utter failure.
There were reports that fans had to walk a significant distance to reach the town of Estepona in order to get back to their accommodations.
During this time, the television coverage lacked the complexity that is now commonly associated with the coverage of professional games. Tracer technology was only available on a few of the holes, and there were no yardages provided for shots to the green.
The captioning was done in a haphazard and imprecise manner, particularly on that hectic last day. The television screen announced that Ciganda needed to make that vital putt in order to win the Solheim Cup as she was settling in over it.
That was unethical, but it was necessary in order to make sure Europe would keep the prize. Find the best solution. The players performed their part, and both sides should have been given a better opportunity to show off their talents to the world.
Next stop is Rome, where the Ryder Cup will be held. The men of Europe and the United States, who have access to more resources, will undoubtedly take pleasure in golf’s most prestigious competition and the sport’s most extensive coverage.
Despite this, there is a lot going on this week that should keep us just as entertained as the sporting action we saw in Spain.