Last week in this neighbourhood I called for Europe’s women to stand tall and to show some spirit and passion and other stuff in the latest Solheim Cup.
And what happened was that the not-so-old battle with the USA offered up so much more. Despite a year that was studded with some memorable performances by Europe’s men, the most captivating golf of 2011 was on view for much of the final day. The Solheim Cup’s future may have been in some serious doubt prior to Ireland at the weekend but surely now it is secured for the immediate future at least.
On a final day that swooped and squealed and thrilled, that was punctuated by rain delays, lightning delays and Paul Creamer delays, Europe’s eventual 15-13 win was as good as anything the Ryder Cup has thrown at us in recent times.
Here, at last, was the chance for women’s golf to shine as never before. There were heroines all over the shop in Catriona ‘Mother Of Two’ Matthews, in Spain’s cute assassin Azahara Munoz, in the evergreen Laura Davies and in the girl with the quickest end-swing in the game, Caroline Hedwall.
And then there was Suzann Pettersen. The Norwegian’s play over the last three holes – she birdied them all – was beyond brilliant, beyond gutsy, outside of impressive. It was magnificent. The world number two played like a number one. Her game-face over these holes made Tiger’s look like a gurning impression. I may be in love.
Set against the weekend’s other attractions – a predictable rugby world cup where the only interesting action takes place in bars; an even more predictable F1 race; the yawnathon that is football at the moment – the women offered a stylish, graceful, truly competitive alternative. I offer huge congratulations to all concerned.
The match also offered an intriguing contrast to the final day of the Fedex Cup. Understandably bigged up by Sky, this forlorn competition was a ragged-trousered alternative to the Solheim Cup. In one, the women were playing passionately for no real financial gain, in the other already rich men were rather dully playing for eleven million dollars.
Somebody called Haas eventually won the big cheque apparently. Outside his immediate family and a few City boys who cared? The weekend’s real sport had taken place already in Ireland.