Boutier and Hall fightback sets up Solheim Cup cliffhanger

Gleneagles (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall were the European heroines on Saturday as Europe desperately clung on to the hope of regaining the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.

After a punishing series of fourballs in blustery, cold weather, the Americans emerged as 2.5-1.5 winners to leave the score tied at 8-8 going into Sunday?s final 12 singles.

As holders, the US team needs to win six of the matches to claim the trophy for the third year in a row.

With all four matches going to the final two holes, fortunes swung to and fro.

At one stage, the visitors were ahead in every match.

But Boutier, the French rookie, and Hall, the 2018 Women's British Open Champion, staged a magnificent comeback against Ally McDonald and Angel Yin to claim a vital full point.

Four down after seven holes and still three down with five to play, Hall and Boutier won the next four on the trot to take a one hole lead and they added another at the 18th for a two hole victory.

Boutier produced three stunning highlights -- she holed from 20 feet for an eagle two at the short, par 4 14th and then made birdies at the 16th and 18th.

Hall and 25-year-old Frenchwoman Boutier have won three out of three matches.

"It?s a great way to start my Solheim career. I had a great partner. The eagle was important -- it kept us right in it," said Boutier.

Hall said the conditions were line playing an extra adversary.

"We didn't make the best of starts, but it was horrendous out there. We just had to dig deep and I am so happy," she said.

- 'Real battle' -

The home team, a point to the good overnight, was still ahead after a share of the morning foursomes.

In a nervy top fourball, Brittany Altomare and Annie Park closed out a vital match by one hole against Anne Van Dam and Suzann Pettersen.

The other point for the United States came from Lizette Salas and Danielle Kang in the final match, beating Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz by two holes.

"I thought we might not get finished in the dark so it was great not to have to go up the 18th," said Kang.

"The weather was awful -- I have never been so cold -- but so excited to win."

The second match was honours even.

Caroline Masson had an eight foot birdie putt at the last to snatch victory for Europe.

But her effort hit the hole and stayed out.

In the opening match of the morning foursomes, Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex helped set the tone for the day by turning around a four hole deficit after six holes into a 2 and 1 victory over Van Dam and Anna Nordqvist.

The second US point in the foursomes came from the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly scoring a record 6 and 5 win over Ciganda and Bronte Law.

The sisters -- Florida-based daughters of former Grand Slam tennis Champion Petr Korda -- have both won 2.5 points from three matches.

One real blight on the day was the pace of play, with rounds taking well over five hours.

"The afternoon was huge and it was great to win the series," said US skipper Juli Inkster, who steered her side to victory in 2015 and 2017.

"I'm ecstatic to be tied and so proud of my team in these tough conditions. Now it is all to play for."

Her Europe counterpart Catriona Matthew will hope history repeats itself.

The only other time the teams were tied going into the singles was in Ireland in 2011 -- Europe went on to win.

"The singles are going to be a real battle," said Matthew.

"But we will be ready to go and we will see what happens."