CASARES, Spain (AP) — American captain Stacy Lewis is celebrating a good week for her team despite the United States failing to retake the Solheim Cup from Europe.
Europe retained the trophy as the teams tied 14-14 after splitting the decisive singles matches on Sunday at Finca Cortesin in southern Spain.
The U.S. needed a victory to reclaim the Solheim Cup after two consecutive losses in the top team event in women’s golf. It’s the first time Europe has secured three straight Solheim Cups.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with this week,” Lewis said. “I really wouldn’t go back and do much different with the pairings. You look even today how many matches went down to 17, to 18, things really could have been quite a bit different with one or two shots here and there.”
The Americans got off to their best-ever start with a 4-0 win in the opening foursome matches on Friday morning. But Europe — which arrived with a more experienced squad and was considered the favorite — slowly rallied back to eventually secure the tie and the trophy.
“I don’t want to sound like a sore loser, but it was a tie, and I think that’s a lot for this team to build off of, especially coming over here, coming into this environment with five rookies, a very young and inexperienced team,” Lewis said. “I mean, this week was really, really good for them.”
The American captain said “the whole week in general feels like a win” and a step forward following the team’s losses at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2019, and Toledo, Ohio, in 2021.
“Just where we were coming from out of Toledo to where this team is at now, it was a win, and that’s all that matters,” Lewis said. “I think it’s more about these girls, where they are mentally, how they felt about this. They were crying because it meant something to them, and that’s all I was trying to achieve this week.”
Lewis said she was pleased with the squad decisions she made and would keep the same process going forward.
“The process worked,” she said. “When I got this call, my No. 1 thing for these girls, it wasn’t winning the Cup, it was to make sure they had a great experience and they had fun, and we succeeded at that. I do know that.
“We’re so close,” she said. “We’re going to go through the same process. We’ll go to the drawing board again, come up with some new ideas to make it a little bit different behind the scenes, continue to make it fun, but the process of the pairings and how we went about putting players together, what order they put in, I don’t see a whole lot of that changing because it worked this year. It works, and we’re moving in the right direction, and I’m really excited about the future of this U.S. team.”
Danielle Kang, who won her match against Charley Hull on Sunday, backed her captain and praised her methods despite the tie.
“I know people like to decide on the process on whether we win or lose, but without Stacy’s process, I think we could have gotten crushed because she gave us the best opportunity and best chance of percentages to go up against what they brought,” Kang said. “She put us up together with the probabilities and gave us the best chance to go up against them. Both teams played their hearts out, and I hope that we keep the process for 2024.”
The U.S. will get another chance to end the losing streak to the Europeans in 2024 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia.
“Fortunately, we only have to wait another year to go get this thing back,” Lewis said.
There was a lot of talk about the young squad brought by the U.S. to Spain, but the five American rookies contributed eight points between them this week, more than half of the team’s total.
Cheyenne Knight and Allisen Corpuz each won 2 1/2 points, Andrea Lee contributed with 1 1/2, Lilia Vu 1 and Rose Zhang 1/2.
It was a disappointing week for the 20-year-old Zhang, who arrived amid high expectations as one of the next top stars in golf. She turned professional in June and had done enough to seal her spot in the U.S. team.
The three European rookies won 6 1/2 points between them — Linn Grant (3), Maja Stark (2 1/2) and Gemma Dryburgh (1).
Europe captain Suzann Pettersen was criticized by some over her captain’s picks but got a big contribution from them at Finca Cortesin.
Her four picks got a total of six points through Emily Pedersen (2 1/2), Madelene Sagstrom (1 1/2), Dryburgh (1) and Caroline Hedwall (1)
Hedwall’s point was a decisive one, coming against Ally Ewing to keep Europe alive late in the singles matches on Sunday.
The three American picks — Knight (2 1/2), Angel Yin (2) and Ewing (1) — contributed 5 1/2 points.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf