The Solheim Cup is a biennial team competition between the top women professional golfers from Europe and the United States. It is a three-day match play event between teams of twelve players with a similar format to the men’s Ryder Cup.
However, this year’s competition was marred by one of the biggest controversies in women’s golf. Here’s what happened:
Americans Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome were all square on the 17th green in their match against Europeans Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull. Lee had a putt to win the hole, but the ball slid 18 inches past the cup. Hull and her caddie started walking off the green, Pettersen was already off the putting surface and out of sight.
Lee thought the remaining 18-inch putt had been conceded and picked up her ball. She thought she heard the concession made out loud, and Hull’s movements to turn and walk off the green toward the next hole was certainly a physical signal of concession. But Pettersen then stepped in from off the green and said no such concession had been made, bringing everything to a record-screeching halt.
A rules official joined in and determined that no concession had been made. The U.S. lost the 17th hole to go 1-down and went on to lose the match and a crucial point one hole later. The match was a huge win for Europe and they went to the singles session with a commanding 10-6 lead.
The whole event was a disaster and it left Lee and her opponent Hull visibly upset at the conclusion of the match. American captain Juli Inkster, clearly unnerved, called in question Petersen’s professionalism and sportsmanship.
But Team USA went on to pull off the largest comeback in Solheim Cup history, erasing a 10-6 deficit in the singles session and getting the 14.5 points to clinch the cup. The team members cited the controversy as the inspiration for the comeback. The score was the closest in the history of the Cup!