If there’s one thing better than beating Americans every two years, it’s beating Americans every single year. Whether it’s the chance to express furious anger towards their neo-imperialistic foreign policy, the catastrophic domino effect of their sub-prime mortgages crisis or the global scourge that is Glee, there’s something about the transatlantic rivalry especially suited to the slowly unfolding narrative of a round of matchplay golf. There’s always something to cheer, an opponent to detest and at least one member of the crowd shouting ‘get in the hole’ on every single shot. It’s beautiful.
The stars aligned perfectly for the event too. After watching the tedium of the Cardiff v Leicester match, the prospect of QPR v Aston Villa at 4pm wouldn’t have had too many people clambering to watch another game of football, so the chances are there was a huge spike in the TV audience. It was hard not to get swept up in it too. With their extensive patriotic face-paint, overly complicated range of headwear and their general arrogant demeanour, the Americans were easy to cast in the role of the baddie. The Europeans may have had equally outrageous face-paint, hats and unappealing behaviour, but I choose to ignore it and got behind the European women with the blind patriotism the bureaucrats in Brussels probably dream of instilling into the citizens of the future European nation-state. Azahara Muñoz Guijarro – I never heard of you before yesterday, but I will always remember you. For the rest of this week at least.
It was a real topsy-turvy afternoon, with the last hour or so providing huge sporting drama. The last time I saw that many angry women create such tension was in the last series of Prisoner Cell Block H. Here’s how the final day of the Solheim Cup unfolded via the medium of betting odds.
Pre-Day 3: There’s drama before a ball is teed up in anger as Cristie Kerr is forced to pull out of her singles match due to a wrist injury. I’m not sure what the medical fraternity call it, but in the school I went too it would be labelled ‘wanker’s cramp’ and be teased remorselessly until someone called the teacher ‘mum’ and we all moved on to slagging that person remorselessly. It hands Europe a point and moves them into a 9-8 lead over the Americans.
Most of the afternoon: In typical match-play style, the afternoon’s play is a mass of nip, tuck and thunderstorms. Play is halted a couple of times due to the chance of lightning, but then it’s remembered that it’s County Meath and the prospect of having to stay until Monday is far worse than a quick and painful death. After several swings and many roundabouts, the Europeans finally look to be in control and at about 5.10pm they’re 4/7 to win the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003.
5.35pm: Almost in the blink of an eye, things turn crap for the Europeans and the Americans are suddenly giving the underdog a solid whupping. It looks very much like they’re on course to take them to the 14 point mark that ensures they hold on to the trophy and more than likely win the 2011 event outright. They’re 1/5 to win, with the Europeans drifting out to 12/1 in running.
5.55pm onwards: Just when we’re about to throw the tees out of the pram and declare ‘this competition is stupid anyway, we’re going home’ there’s an incredible fightback. Suzann Pettersen leads the recovery with 3 three birdies in the closing three holes to turn a one hole deficit into a hole win. Her excellent approach shots on 16, 17 and 18 left her with putts totalling a distance of 18 feet. It’s supreme play under immense pressure and at about 6.01pm the contest turns decisively in Europe’s favour.
See you in Medinah in 2012, notion of US golf that I find so annoying for three days every 12 months.