Victorious captain Catriona Matthew paid tribute to “trailblazer” Suzann Pettersen after the hero of Europe’s Solheim Cup triumph at Gleneagles announced her retirement from professional golf.
Matthew controversially selected Pettersen for her ninth appearance in the biennial contest despite the 38-year-old Norwegian having played just twice since November 2017 before the wild cards were named after taking time off to have her first child.
However, Pettersen repaid Matthew’s faith in amazing fashion by holing from six feet for a winning birdie on the 18th hole of her match with Marina Alex to give Europe victory over the United States by 14.5 points to 13.5.
“Over the last 20 years maybe she’s been one of the trailblazers in European women’s golf,” Matthew said.
“I think we’ve played on maybe seven, eight Solheim Cups together so she’s been a huge part of women’s golf and the Solheim Cup.
“It’s such a special moment for her. If this happens to be her last moment in professional golf, well, you may as well go out at the top.”
Starting the day tied at 8-8, the home side won three of the first four matches courtesy of Carlota Ciganda, Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier, before the United States fought back through wins for Nelly Korda, Brittany Altomare and Angel Yin.
Jessica Korda took Juli Inkster’s side in front for the first time by closing out Caroline Masson 3&2 and after Charley Hull made a mess of the last against Megan Khang to only claim half a point, Lizette Salas beat Anne Van Dam to get the visitors within half a point of retaining the trophy.
Anna Nordqvist’s win kept European hopes alive and Bronte Law’s victory over Ally McDonald left the outcome in the hands of Pettersen and Alex on the 18th.
Pettersen hit a superb approach to six feet and, after Alex missed from twice the distance, she amazingly held her nerve to hole the winning putt and spark jubilant scenes.
“I think this is a perfect end for my professional career. It does not get any better,” Pettersen said.
“I mean, can you ask for more? The last putt to win the cup, when it’s that close? I could never in a million miles dream it.
“I never thought I was going to be here four months ago. To have the confidence from Beany (Matthew) to give me a go, this is it.”
It was all a far cry from Pettersen’s last appearance as a player in 2015, when she played a major role in the controversial incident which sparked a brilliant fightback from the United States in Germany.
In the final fourball match held over from Saturday, Alison Lee missed a birdie putt to win the 17th hole and, after the ball finished two feet behind the hole, scooped it up with her putter thinking it had been conceded.
Pettersen insisted she was not going to concede and therefore won the hole, before refusing to follow captain Carin Koch’s suggestion to concede the 18th and ensure a halved match.