The United States staged a dramatic rally to win the afternoon fourball session 3-1 and tie 8-8 with Europe ahead of Sunday’s singles series in the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle.
Europe won the morning foursomes 2 1/2 to 1 1/2 to extend its lead to 7-5 over the Americans in the biennial match play competition.
Veteran Laura Davies then became the all-time Solheim Cup points record points scorer when she teamed up with Melissa Reid to beat Americans Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie 4 and 3 and put Europe 8-5 in front.
But the Americans stormed back to win the last three matches and leave the sides tied going into the 12 singles for the second match in succession and the third time in the event’s history.
The precedents are not good for Europe. When the matches were tied going into the final day in 2005 and 2009, the US went on to win the singles and lift trophy.
European captain Alison Nicholas said her team was not downbeat despite losing the momentum late in the day.
Insisting her side had enough strength in depth to win the singles and the Solheim Cup, Nicholas said: “The scoring was just incredible. We just didn’t hole the putts coming in. But I’m very confident in my players. I knew it was going to be all about tomorrow anyway. I know they’re pretty up for it, and they’re feeling good.
“Obviously, anyone would prefer to go in with the lead. But what it is iwhat it is, and we deal with it, and we go forward and we go and try and win.
“Everyone’s got to not watch the scoreboard and try and win that point. But they seem pretty upbeat. I mean, no problem at all.
“I think we’ve got strength and depth in my team. They’re very up for it, and I’m backing them.”
US captain Rosie Jones was delighted that her team managed to stop Europe’s momentum in the afternoon with those three late wins.
“We really rallied today,” Jones said. “I thought we played with a lot of heart yesterday, but coming back and tying up the matches today was just really huge.”
Jones added: “We just have a lot of heart. We’ve got a lot of guts and heart, and it showed not only yesterday but today as well, and we’re going to bring it back tomorrow.”
Europe needs 14 1/2 points to win the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003 while the US only needs a 14-14 tie to retain it.
“We’ve messed up the singles so many times,” said Davies, who will face US veteran Juli Inkster in the singles. “This time we need to go out there and not worry.”
US rookie Stacy Lewis earned her first point when she teamed up with the fellow first-timer Ryann O’Toole to beat Sandra Gal and Christel Boeljon 2 and 1.
O’Toole was regarded as a controversial wildcard but believes she has proved herself with two wins a half from her three matches so far.
“I feel very calm and confident,” O’Toole said.
Morgan Pressel and Cristie Kerr then reduced Europe’s lead to 8-7 when the beat Europe’s top player Suzann Pettersen and the impressive rookie Caroline Hedwall by one hole.
Pettersen holed a 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th to square the match but Pressel replied with a winning birdie at the next and the US side held on to win at the last.
Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome then completed the US rally when they came back from one down at the turn to defeat Maria Hjorth and Azahara Muñoz 3 and 1.
“Those last three points were huge for us,” said Creamer who has won three and a half points out of four this week. “Just the momentum, the team room will have a great vibe. We’re all very pumped up. We want to do really well. Especially going into singles, we feel like everybody is where we want to be.”
Results Saturday from the Solheim Cup at the par-72, 6,587-yard Killeen Castle course:
EUROPE 8, USA 8
Europe 2 1/2, United States 1 1/2
Caroline Hedwall and Sophie Gustafson, Europe def. Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis, United States 6 and 5;
Morgan Pressel and Ryann O’Toole, United States def. Karen Stupples and Christel Boeljon, Europe 3 and 2;
Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist, Europe def. Brittany Lang and Juli Inkster, United States 3 and 2;
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer, United States halved with Catriona Matthew and Azahara Muñoz, Europe.
Europe 1, United States 3
Laura Davies and Melissa Reid, Europe def. Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie, United States 4 and 3;
Morgan Pressel and Cristie Kerr, United States def. Suzann Pettersen and Caroline Hedwall, Europe 1 up;
Stacy Lewis and Ryann O’Toole, United States def. Sandra Gal and Christel Boeljon, Europe 2 and 1;
Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome, United States def. Maria Hjorth and Azahara Muñoz, Europe 3 and 1.
Sunday singles draw
1010 BST Paula Creamer, United States versus Catriona Matthew, Europe;
1020 BST Stacy Lewis, United States versus Sophie Gustafson, Europe;
1030 BST Morgan Pressel, United States versus Anna Nordqvist, Europe;
1040 BST Juli Inkster, United States versus Laura Davies, Europe;
1050 BST Vicky Hurst, United States versus Melissa Reid, Europe;
1100 BST Brittany Lincicome, United States versus Christel Boeljon, Europe;
1110 BST Brittany Lang, United States versus Sandra Gal, Europe;
1120 BST Christina Kim, United States versus Maria Hjorth, Europe;
1130 BST Michelle Wie, United States versus Suzann Pettersen, Europe;
1140 BST Ryann O’Toole, United States versus Caroline Hedwall, Europe;
1150 BST Angela Stanford, United States versus Azahara Muñoz, Europe;
1200 BST Cristie Kerr, United States versus Karen Stupples, Europe.