SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — The scoreboards around Rich Harvest Farms were awash in European blue and the holes beginning to dwindle.
Then one red point went up, and then another. Soon, one more. With chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” echoing throughout the back nine, the momentum at the Solheim Cup took a seismic shift.
Europe didn’t stand a chance.
“Every four minutes it seemed like you heard another roar, and based on the volume of it, you could tell it was an American,” Christina Kim said.
“It starts off with one, and it was just contagious. You just get a little bit of that momentum, and you ride it out.”
Turning what had been a close contest into a rout, the Americans won their third straight Solheim Cup on Sunday with a 16-12 decision over Europe.
When Morgan Pressel delivered the clinching point with her 3-and-2 victory over Anna Nordqvist, her teammates — sitting near the green in anticipation — leaped up and the party was on.
Michelle Wie, whose 3-0-1 record was the best of any American this week, grabbed a U.S. flag and held it aloft to cries of “Wheee!” from the crowd.
There were new shrieks of joy as each American arrived to join her teammates and, when it was all over, they ran around the 18th green carrying flags and waving to the crowd that had been so boisterous all week.
There were more smiles as they passed around the crystal Solheim Cup at the closing ceremony, some kissing it, others holding it up for the fans to see.
“It’s awesome, especially since it was such a hard-fought battle,” captain Beth Daniel said.
“They had to dig deep, they really had to dig deep to win this, and I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”
Fittingly, Juli Inkster was at the centre of the turnaround.
At 49, she’s the oldest player in Solheim Cup history, with a daughter who’s only a few months younger than Wie. But she’s the heart and the soul of the U.S. team, and everyone on the team lobbied for Daniel to make her a captain’s pick — not that Daniel needed much convincing.
Inkster struggled most of the day, down 2 to Gwladys Nocera through 12 holes.