Tears, turmoil and turnarounds: 10 pivotal moments in Solheim Cup history
This is the 15th Solheim Cup, an event that began as a low-key affair in the long shadow of the Ryder Cup but has become one of golf's great weeks.
In the run-up to the 2017 competition at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, which begins on Friday, here is a look at 10 important moments in Solheim Cup history.
1990: Solheim family takes a chance
The galleries at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club weren't large for the inaugural Solheim Cup, and the event, which went from idea to reality in less than six months, wasn't televised. But the fact that there was a Solheim Cup was a big deal. A team competition between women professionals from the United States and Europe was the brainchild of Karsten Solheim, the innovative force behind PING golf clubs. Solheim had seen how the Ryder Cup between the U.S. and Europe became a hit for players and fans alike during the 1980s and, as a supporter of women's golf, thought it should have a biennial competition. The U.S., captained by Kathy Whitworth, leader in career LPGA victories with 88, won convincingly, 11 1/2 to 4 1/2. The American side (eight players) was loaded with talent in the form of five future Hall of Fame members: Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Betsy King, Nancy Lopez and Patty Sheehan -- each of whom would go on to captain an American Solheim Cup team.
1992: Europe squares the series as things heat up
If the first Cup was a little sleepy, the second one, at Dalmahoy Country Club in Scotland, heated up. The Europeans -- seven back from 1990, this time on a 10-player squad -- were motivated by losing the inaugural and by pre-Cup published comments by Daniel, who was quoted as saying there were only two European golfers who could play for the U.S., but that every American could improve the opposing side. Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas set the tone in the first foursomes' session, beating Daniel and King. It was tight going into singles play, but Davies, Helen Alfredsson and Trish Johnson won the first three matches en route to a convincing 7-3-0 outcome and 11 1/2 to 6 1/2 victory.
1998: Europeans vent about a lightning rod, who goes about her business
For those who like intense golf played with high passion, no one fit that bill as much as Dottie Pepper during the 1990s. From patriotically painted fingernails to demonstrative reactions, Pepper let her mood be known and it got under the skin of her European opponents -- especially when she backed up her fervor with fine form, going 13-5-2 in five Cups. The New York native had been particularly effective in 1994 and 1996, winning 6½ points while losing none. During the 1998 matches at Muirfield Village Golf in Dublin, Ohio, the Europeans pasted Pepper's picture on a punching bag and let off steam. Pepper simply kept playing passionately, with a 4-0-0 record as the Judy Rankin-captained Americans won 16-12.
2000: Tears and bitterness at Loch Lomond
Carin Koch of Sweden sealed Europe's second Solheim Cup triumph when she defeated Michele Redman at Loch Lomond Golf Club, staving off a spirited American comeback on the final day. Europe's victory, however, was muddied by what some thought was unsportsmanlike conduct by the U.S. The controversy happened on the morning of the final day, during a weather-delayed four-ball match between Americans Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst and Europeans Annika Sorenstam and Janice Moodie. Europe, trailing by one hole on No. 13, believed it had squared the match when Sorenstam chipped in for birdie. Exercising an option under match-play rules, when the Swede was found to have been a yard closer than Robbins and therefore played out of turn, the Americans had her re-play the chip. "The whole team is disgusted," Sorenstam said later. "We all ask ourselves: Is this how badly they want to win the Cup?"
2003: Sorenstam leads way as Cup is held in Sweden
In 2003, Sorenstam was in the midst of a five-year period (2001-05) in which she would win 42 times, the most dominant run in women's golf since Mickey Wright in the early 1960s. Sorenstam won "only" five times in 2003, but the season would stand out just as much as the years when she won eight, 10 or 11 tournaments. As a nod to Sorenstam -- who that May had become the first woman in nearly 60 years to play in a PGA Tour event -- and her home country's growing status in professional golf, the 2003 Solheim Cup was held in Barseback Golf Club in Sweden. Sorenstam responded to the pressure of being a local hero, going 4-0-1 to lead Europe to a victory a month before she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
2007: Americans win after Pepper's biting comments
Pepper remained a noteworthy figure around the Solheim Cup even after her playing career was shortened because of injuries. Pepper became a television analyst, and in 2007 was part of Golf Channel's broadcast team for the event's second trip to Sweden. After the U.S. squandered leads in two matches on Saturday, Pepper, believing the network had gone to commercial, said "chokin' freakin' dogs" in reference to the struggling Americans. Her harsh critique stung her countrywomen, some of whom didn't forgive Pepper for a long time. The U.S. didn't live up to her accidentally aired description in singles, routing Europe for a comfortable 16-12 overall victory.
2013: American exuberance, etiquette over the top
In getting into the moment in team play, golfers and fans sometimes cross the line. Plenty of traditionalists thought that some on the 2013 American team at Colorado Golf Club did just that. There was lots of face paint, hand gesturing and grand celebrations that didn't sit well with those who believe that even in these emotional contests, there ought to be decorum. The highest profile player on the U.S. side, Michelle Wie, took heat for leaving a green while her opponents putted to halve the 16th hole during a second-day four-ball match. The next day, Wie apologized on Twitter, and in the next Solheim Cup, captain Juli Inkster reined in her young charges.
2013: Hull makes history; helps Europe achieve two firsts
Europe had players from eight countries on its 2013 team, but it was a youthful member from a nation vital to the team makeup from the start who offered a big spark at Colorado Golf Club. As the Europeans won on American soil and back-to-back for the first time, 17-year-old Charley Hull of England, the youngest player to ever participate in the Solheim Cup, played a key role. She went 2-1-0, one of her victories coming over American star Paula Creamer, 5-and-4, in singles, after which she asked Creamer for an autograph for a friend back in England. Hull wasn't fazed by the hoopla of her first Cup. "I'm not going to die if I hit a bad shot," she said of not being overly nervous. "Just hit it, find it and hit it again."
2015: It wasn't a concession, but it was a controversy
Controversy followed the Solheim Cup to Germany's St. Leon-Rot Golf Club, where the matter of a small putt escalated into a large deal. Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome were playing Suzann Pettersen and Hull Sunday morning in four-ball match that hadn't been completed the previous afternoon. Lee missed a birdie putt on No. 17, leaving herself an 18-incher for par to halve the hole. She thought she heard someone say the putt was conceded and picked up the ball. Hull walked toward the 18th tee. Pettersen, already off the green, told the walking official that the Europeans hadn't conceded Lee's par putt. Lee made a mistake in not being certain the putt was good, but many thought Europe, which won that match that had been all square going to No. 17, 2 up, had gone low. "Disgusted," Solheim Cup veteran Davies said on Sky Sports. "... I am so glad I am not on that team this time." Pettersen voiced regret the next day, posting an apology on social media. "I've never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup," Pettersen wrote.
2015: Americans author historic comeback in singles
It had only happened twice in the long history of the Ryder Cup and never in the Solheim Cup -- coming back from a 10-6 deficit going into singles and winning. But what the Americans (1999) and Europeans (2012) achieved in Ryder Cup, a riled-up American side did in the 2015 Solheim Cup. Bidding to avoid a third straight loss in the competition and upset about the controversy over the concession, the U.S. put up a sea of red on the singles scoreboard. The Americans won eight matches and halved another one to earn a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory, a record comeback -- on the road at that -- as the European men did at the Ryder Cup three years earlier in Illinois. Creamer gave the U.S. the winning point by beating Sandra Gal, but that wouldn't have mattered without a clutch 10-footer by Gerina Piller on the 18th hole against Caroline Masson to win the sixth match and keep the rally alive.