WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Four years ago, Team Europe celebrated the most decisive win in Solheim Cup history — on American soil, no less.
Captain Annika Sorenstam and her team will likely spend their trip back across the Atlantic wondering when they’ll be ready to compete with the U.S. again.
Lexi Thompson, 22, and her resurgent U.S. teammates finished off their most-decisive Solheim Cup victory in more than 20 years, beating Europe 16 1/2-11 1/2 on Sunday at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Though Europe played the U.S. even on Sunday, the U.S. players dominated foursome and four-ball play to put the Europeans in a major hole.
The Americans are now 10-5 in the biennial tournament after their biggest win since a 17-11 triumph in 1996 in Wales. They rallied to win in Germany in 2015 and have taken five of the last seven matches — the exception being that 18-10 blowout that Europe handed the U.S. in Colorado in 2013.
“We just got outplayed, no doubt about it,” Sorenstam said. “I’m just so proud of how hard they fought. What can I say? Just congratulate the USA because they played some awesome golf.”
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer won key matches, and Gerina Piller sealed it with a birdie putt that put her 3 up over Florentyna Parker with three to play in a 4-and-2 victory.
“They just bonded. They believed in each other. They played for the person behind them and in front of them. And they played some amazing golf,” said Juli Inkster, who joined Judy Rankin as the only U.S. captains to win the Solheim Cup twice.
Kerr beat Mel Reid 2 and 1 for her record-extending 21st point in the competition, and Creamer edged Georgia Hall 1 up to raise her total to 19 1/2 — second on the U.S. career list.
Thompson ended up halving with Anna Nordqvist, and Angel Yin halved with Karine Icher as the teams split the 12 singles matches. Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang also won for the U.S. Salas edged Jodi Ewart Shadoff 1 up, and Kang beat Emily Pedersen 3 and 1.
For Europe, Catriona Matthew beat Stacy Lewis 1 up, Caroline Masson topped Michelle Wie 4 and 2, Charley Hull edged Brittany Lang 1 up, Carlota Ciganda beat Brittany Lincicome 4 and 3, and Madelene Sagstrom defeated Austin Ernst 3 and 2.
Her team five points down entering the day, Sorenstam tried to keep the mood light by dressing up in a blue and yellow Viking hat and wig and dancing for the cameras before play began.
Nordqvist did her best to set the tone for the Europeans in the opening match, winning the first four holes.
But after a birdie on No. 10, Thompson holed out from 112 yards for eagle on the 11th hole — a shot so impressive that even Nordqvist was compelled to high-five her.
Thompson followed with an eagle putt on the 15th hole, and a birdie on 16 put her ahead for the first time. Though Nordqvist rallied, earning the half-point by sticking her 154-yard approach on No. 18 within a foot, an American win was inevitable after Thompson’s run.
Europe also knows that they’ll likely have to deal with Thompson — the highest-rated player in the event — for a long time.
“To me, that was like six points,” Inkster said. “It’s probably fitting they both got half a point. Both played amazingly. It just shows the heart of her and her determination. You think she’s out of it and then the switch goes off.”
Europe knew it would be a big underdog heading into the tournament, especially after star Suzann Pettersen threw out her back and withdrew. But the 47-year-old Matthew was 3-1 after replacing the injured Suzann Pettersen.
Nordqvist went 3-0-1 during the week to lead the Europeans.