Lexi Thompson’s novice shank, Leona Maguire chip in lead to Solheim Cup momentum shift

Lexi Thompson’s novice shank, Leona Maguire chip in lead to Solheim Cup momentum shift

After getting dominated in the morning session 4-to-0, Team Europe needed a rally in the afternoon four-ball to make things competitive at the Solheim Cup.

In the opening match of the afternoon, Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom tied Rose Zhang and Megan Khang, thus giving Europe its first points of the competition.

Although it was only a half-point, at least it was something.

But Europe got everything they needed—including a wave of momentum—in the second match, which pitted Leona Maguire and Georgia Hall against Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu.

It all came down to the 18th hole, where the match was all square. Thompson faced a delicate third shot next to the green while Maguire laid three in front of it.

Maguire had the honor as she was away.

The Irishwoman chipped in, thus putting all the pressure on Thompson and Vu to try and square the match with a birdie.

“My third shot spun back [off the green],” Maguire explained. “But it was a really nice chip. Chipping off this Bermuda is quite tricky. I just wanted to get it close to give [Hall] a chance to have a go at the putt, but nice to go one better.”

With all the pressure in the world weighing on her shoulders, Thompson then played her third shot as a 20-handicapper would. She completely shanked her shot 90 degrees, ultimately taking her out of the hole.

Vu then missed her 25-footer for birdie, which sealed the match.

This occurrence gave Europe its first full point of the Solheim Cup, as Maguire’s chip-in cut the American lead from 4.5-to-1.5.

“The Americans obviously played incredibly this morning,” Maguire said Friday evening. “I think we played well as well. There was no real bad golf out there. So you have to play some really good golf to win a point, even a half point, in these matches, and we’ll never give up, and I think we showed that out there today.”

Lexi Thompson, Team USA, LPGA, Solheim Cup

Lexi Thompson hits her third shot on the 18th green during the afternoon session on Day One at the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Maguire’s chip-in sent shockwaves around Finca Cortesín as the Europeans celebrated euphorically.

“I got to say, the level of golf played this afternoon was unbelievable,” European captain Suzann Pettersen said.

“It’s a very tough golf course with the conditions we had today. I mean, you guys could see it for yourself. Putting is not the easiest thing on these greens with the wind and the pressure. To finish off the way [Maguire] did, she’s made for that, so to say. She turned around to me and said, ‘How would you have done it? And I said, “Just the same.’”

By the end of the day, the Europeans cut a four-point deficit in half, as they won the afternoon session 3-to-1.

They go into Saturday’s morning foursomes trailing 5-to-3, which is remarkable considering how the Americans played Friday morning.

But these team competitions are marathons, not sprints. Anything can happen, and one shot can completely change the outlook of the tournament.

Perhaps Maguire’s chip-in was indeed that moment. As for now, it appears that way.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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