GLENEAGLES, Scotland — The most sensational finish in Solheim Cup history went down to the last putt of the entire match by a veteran player who many thought was lucky to even be selected.
Suzann Pettersen didn’t let Europe down.
By rolling in a left-to-right birdie from 6 feet on the 18th hole, the 38-year-old Pettersen regained the biggest team prize in women’s golf for the Europeans in a 14 1/2-13 1/2 win over the United States at Gleneagles.
"Just unbelievable. Never been a better moment," said European captain Catriona Matthew, whose contentious decision to choose Pettersen as one of her wild-card picks paid off.
The Norwegian was called up by Matthew despite having played just two tournaments — missing the cut in both — since November 2017, having had time off because of injury and after having a baby boy, Herman.
After being mobbed by her teammates on the 18th green, an emotional Pettersen held Herman in her arms and kissed him.
"Coming down No. 18, Beany (Matthew) said, ‘It’s why I picked you,"’ Pettersen said. "In your wildest dreams, especially where I’ve come from, I never thought I was going to do this again."
As an afternoon of tension-filled singles matches drew to a close, the Americans took the lead in the contest for the first time since Friday lunchtime, at 12-11. At 13 1/2-11 1/2, they needed just a half-point from the final three singles out on the course to guarantee retaining the cup but then came the European fightback.
Anna Nordqvist completed a 4-and-3 win over Morgan Pressel in Match 12 on No. 16. Then, on No. 17, Bronte Law sealed a 2-and-1 win over Ally McDonald to tie the score.
By that time, Pettersen’s opponent, Marina Alex, had slid a 10-foot birdie putt wide on No. 18 that would have retained the cup for the U.S.
It was about 30 seconds after Law’s win was confirmed that Pettersen settled over her putt and made it, sparking raucous celebrations for the home team on the PGA Centenary Course. Law jumped about virtually on her own just off the 17th green, before sprinting over to No. 18 where the party was in full flow.
The Americans were looking to win the Solheim Cup for the third straight time. Instead, their lead in the overall series was trimmed to 10-6 because of the nerveless Pettersen, who added another chapter in her extraordinary relationship with the competition.
In 2015 at St. Leon-Rot in Germany, Pettersen refused to concede a short putt to Alison Lee on the 17th hole of a tight fourballs match before the singles on the final day. There were angry exchanges, and it stoked a fire inside the Americans as they fought back from 10-6 down going into the singles to win 14 1/2-13 1/2. Pettersen later apologized.
In 2017, she had to withdraw just before the matches because of injury.
Her redemption story was delivered two years later in Scotland, the home of golf, where the U.S. team hasn’t now won in three attempts. Playing in her ninth Solheim Cup, Pettersen won two of her three matches and is now a four-time Solheim Cup winner.
Two of the Americans, in particular, will still look back on the week with fond memories. Jessica and Nelly Korda, the first sisters to play together in the fourballs or foursomes at the Solheim Cup, both finished with 3 1/2 points from four matches after coming from behind to win in the singles.
Nelly Korda, out in Match 2, was 3 down after nine holes against Caroline Hedwall but won 2 up. Jessica Korda, who at age 26 is five years older than her sister, beat Caroline Masson 3 and 2 after being 2 down.
Other key interventions for the U.S. came from Megan Khang, who birdied No. 18 to claim a half-point against Charley Hull, and Lizette Salas, who parred the last for a 1-up win over Anne van Dam.
But Europe, which had a historically inferior record in singles, managed to win the session 6 1/2-5 1/2 after victories in three of the first matches to finish — including Georgia Hall taking down world No. 3 Lexi Thompson 2 and 1 — and then the last three matches.