Solheim Cup: Europe’s victory over the USA puts the final of the PGA Tour in the shade

by | Sep 7, 2021 | PGA

Money can’t buy everything, and despite the abundant fortunes of the Tour Championship, the PGA Tour final didn’t come close to the golf glory of the Solheim Cup.

As commendable and lucrative as Patrick Cantlay’s $ 15 million (£ 10.9 million) performance was last Sunday in Atlanta, the real-life contest ended a day later at the Inverness Club near Toledo , Ohio.

Here, Europe’s women defended their trophy, which they won two years ago under equally dramatic circumstances against the USA, grippingly. This was another Solheim Cup that will be remembered for a long time.

Few European fans were there to celebrate a victory that ultimately silenced the constant chants of “USA, USA” from the record crowd of 130,000 that left no doubt about the identity of the home team.

There was no roar to greet Europe’s exploits, just waves of admittedly polite applause. There were no friends or relatives in the galleries to comfort the guest performers – all they had was themselves and an inspired back room team.

And great credit must be due to the soft-spoken captain Catriona Matthew. The experienced Scot has now led her continent to two underdog victories to crown her outstanding golf career.

She won’t seek the limelight, but her calculated, meticulous, and inspiring leadership deserves due and lasting recognition.

Matthew, a former Women’s Open champion, has never received the appreciation she deserves from the broader sports public.

As the only European captain to have won two Solheim Cups, she hardly went wrong with her clever tactics that got her opposing number wrong in both games. Your single order on the last day was a prime example of how Europe was ultimately able to build an unassailable lead.

Pairing Leona Maguire, the pre-eminent performer in Toledo, with Mel Reid was a move neither player saw coming. “I don’t think Leona really liked me before,” Reid admitted to BBC Sport.

The Irish rookie and English veteran harmonized in training and proved to be an unbeatable force in both four-man matches and the fourballs on Saturday.

“We didn’t know each other before. I don’t think she wanted to play with me to be honest,” added Reid. “She’s an amazing player, I really hope the world will see how good she is now.

“Her new nickname is ‘Lion’, I mean she’s so impressive and honestly it was an honor to play with.”

Maguire won a rookie record of four and a half points as the only golfer on both sides to play all five sessions. “There were a lot of heckling in the crowd,” Maguire told me.

“We knew it was going to be a hostile crowd and we tried to get enough blue on the board early on in the singles to get the girls across a message and they really got together to get the deal in the end seal.”

Maguire was the first to score a European point with her emphatic 5 & 4 win over her also undefeated debutante Jennifer Kupcho. It was a stunning debut for the 26-year-old from Cavan.

“I never imagined it would go so well,” she added. “This is something I will never forget and it is definitely one of the best weeks of my life.

“I said if Beany (Matthew) wanted me to play five games, I’d play five games and give it my all and I can sleep next week.

“We were underdogs who came here and to win is just amazing.”

It was a Solheim Cup to sit alongside the exploits of Gleneagles when Suzann Pettersen secured victory with the final putt two years ago, and Killeen Castle in 2011 when Europe also took victory at the very last moment.

No fewer than 16 of the 28 matches went to the Final Green in Ohio, a sign of how exciting and exciting this competition was.

Europe’s zeal pushed it through and built the reputation of an event that gains resonance with every game. “It shows the standard of golf in Europe, we have some absolute world-class players,” said Reid.

“I cannot tell you enough that it is one of the best spectacles in sport, whether man or woman.

“The Solheim Cup brings out the best in everyone who plays.

“I hope that a lot of people are watching golf now because we have shown in the last few days.”

Make no mistake, this wasn’t a mere starter for the Ryder Cup that’s being played later this month. This was a filling main course in itself.

The Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits will be another thoroughbred sports competition without a penny in prize money. Instead, a lot of golf fame is at stake.

It’s another example of golf in its most compelling form. And this achievement by European women can only serve as an inspiration to their male counterparts in Wisconsin.