UNITED STATES JUMPS TO THREE-POINT LEAD ON DAY ONE
Victories in four-ball and foursome carries Americans at PING Junior Solheim Cup
AURORA, Ill. — The U.S. team jumped out to an early lead Tuesday at the PING Junior Solheim Cup, winning both the morning four-ball and afternoon foursome matches to finish the day with a 7.5-4.5 lead at Aurora Country Club.
The PING Junior Solheim Cup, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association and hosted by Aurora Country Club in Aurora, Ill., matches the 12 top female junior golfers from the United States against their European counterparts. Players competed in four-ball and foursome matches Tuesday, and will battle in singles matches Wednesday. With the all-time series tied at two matches apiece, the Europeans hold the Cup and need to reach 12 points to keep it, while the United States needs 12.5 points to reclaim the fifth biennial PING Junior Solheim Cup.
Tuesday was only the second time that a team has won both four-ball and foursome sessions of the PING Junior Solheim Cup. The Americans accomplished the feat in the inaugural event in 2002.
“They played awesome,” U.S. Team Captain Nancy Lopez said. “They played hard and they played with heart today. I appreciate that so much.”
Leading the way for the United States were five players who scored the full two points: Sarah Brown of Phillipsburg, N.J.; Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif.; Jane Rah of Torrance, Calif.; Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla.; and Kristen Park of Buena Park, Calif.
Lua and Rah teamed together twice, winning the first points of both the morning and afternoon. Park teamed with Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., to win a four-ball match 2 & 1, then won a foursome match with Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., 4 & 3.
“It's been really fun,” Park said. “This is my second time playing in the PING Junior Solheim Cup, so it has helped to have the experience and know what to expect. Since we lost two years ago, I want to win even more.”
Thompson and Brown each won their morning four-ball, then joined together in the afternoon to win another point in foursome. Their foursome victory was critical to the U.S. momentum. After going 3-up through six holes, the Spanish duo of Anna Arrese and Ana Fernandez de Mesa fought back and took the lead on the 12th hole. The Americans mounted one more charge, however, reclaiming the lead at 15 and hanging on for a 1-up win.
The way Arrese, Fernandez de Mesa and other European players battled back when they were down impressed their captain, Carin Koch.
“I'm just proud of how we kept fighting and never gave up,” Koch said. “All our girls showed a lot of game and a lot of spirit. That's what this is all about — the spirit and the fight.”
The Europeans found a winning combination in Lisa Maguire of Ireland and Kelly Tidy of England, who paired together for two points.
“This morning we were never down,” Tidy said. “We took an early lead and never gave them any space to catch up. We kept hitting fairways and greens and making pars.”
With a three-point deficit, Tidy said her team was optimistic in their team meeting.
“We know what we need to do,” she said. “We need to win our own matches and hopefully everyone will win theirs, too. The visiting team has never won this event and we think we have a good chance to do that.”
The PING Junior Solheim Cup concludes Wednesday with singles matches starting at 9 a.m. at Aurora Country Club in Aurora, Ill. For more information about the PING Junior Solheim Cup, contact Ashley O'Dell of the AJGA at 256-504-6385.