GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — The Europeans have the lead. The Americans have the momentum.
An opening day of swinging fortunes in the Solheim Cup reached a crescendo in a tension-filled last hour at Gleneagles, with the final two matches of the fourballs going to the 18th hole and the U.S. team staring at a three-point deficit.
Two long birdie putts later, first from Lexi Thompson then from Brittany Altomare, the U.S. had escaped with two half-points and only trailed Europe 4 1/2-3 1/2.
As shadows lengthened across the PGA Centenary Course, it was the U.S. players and their flag-waving fans who were cheering the loudest.
Jessica and Nelly Korda played central roles in both sessions on Friday, firstly teaming up as the first siblings to play together in the competition and winning 6 and 4 in the morning foursomes. It was the only win for the U.S., which went into the fourballs trailing 2 1/2-1 1/2.
The sisters were split up by captain Julie Inkster in the afternoon and placed in the final two matches, a decision that looked like backfiring as the Americans went to the 18th hole losing in both.
Thompson — playing alongside Jessica Korda — rolled in a 15-foot birdie from left to right to grab a half from a match against Bronte Law and Carlota Ciganda in which neither side led more than 2 up.
Altomare — Nelly Korda’s partner — went even better, holing a birdie from 25 feet up the slope to complete a U.S. comeback from 4 down with six holes to play against Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz.
Inkster praised the performance of the record six rookies in her team, with Nelly Korda and Altomare digging deep for that crucial half-point after Ally McDonald and Angel Yin delivered a record-tying 7-and-5 win over Swedish pair Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall in the fourballs.