GLENEAGLES, Scotland — Redemption. Validation. Closure.
The 2019 Solheim Cup was all of these things and more for Suzann Pettersen, who holed the decisive putt for Europe, securing the narrowest of wins (14 1/2-13 1/2) amid scenes of delirium on the 18th green.
Pettersen was a left-field captain’s pick when Catriona Matthew plucked her from 18 months of inactivity, putting the wild in wild card.
And upon her clinching putt, she was someone who then flummoxed everyone by announcing her retirement from professional golf.
“I mean, can you ask for more? The last putt to win the Cup, when it’s that close?” Pettersen said. “History was just made. To win here in front of this Scottish crowd? This is it. This is the last you’ll see of me playing in the Solheim.
“It’s perfect closure for my Solheim career and also my professional career. I’m done.”
It was a dizzying, whirlwind conclusion to a day of drama which was savagely contested at every step.
Still, the ruthless reduction was not done because eventually, only Pettersen’s final 8-foot putt could determine the fate of the trophy.
Surrounded by packed grandstands and galleries 20 deep, the stakes were clear: Miss the putt and America would retain the Cup virtue of a tied match; hole it and Europe would steal the win.
The true competitor focuses only on the target.
Team Europe assistant captain Laura Davies later said Pettersen “is the greatest competitor I have come across.” Now she proved it, draining the putt with icy calm and then launching into one final roar.
In that moment, the memories from St Leon Rot four years ago that had haunted her had been flung from her shoulders.
This surpasses that error of judgement and adds to the legend of Pettersen, particularly of the warrior who led Europe to victory at Killeen Castle, Ireland, in 2011.
“From the villain back to the hero,” Davies said. “How good is that?”
“I mean, can you ask for more? The last putt to win the Cup, when it’s that close?”
In fact, the parallels between that win and this one were frankly eerie. Both matches were played on Jack Nicklaus designs in a Celtic setting. Both were 8-8 heading into the singles. Both hurtled towards a conclusion in which the final three matches on the course could only be European wins if they were to regain the trophy.
And both times, Pettersen was a constant.
Carlota Ciganda birdied three of the final five holes to defeat Danielle Kang in the first match on Sunday. Nelly Korda countered for the Americans with a comeback against Caroline Hedwall.
Europe stretched clear when Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier polished off Lexi Thompson (troubled by a back spasm) and Annie Park; the two Europeans ended the week with four wins from four starts.
Within minutes, Brittany Altomare’s magic putter downed Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Angel Yin completed victory over Azahara Munoz.
The teams were not only tied 11-11 on the scoreboard, but 14-14 in the projections, marking the first time since the conclusion of Friday’s opener that the Americans were in position to three-peat.
Jessica Korda bested Caroline Masson. Megan Khang’s resilience earned a half with Charley Hull and Lizette Salas’ persistence toppled Anne Van Dam.
Team USA was within half a point of earning the tie and with it retaining the trophy. Europe had to win every match left on the course.
While Anna Nordqvist polished off Morgan Pressel, Bronte Law recovered after leaving a bunker shot in the sand by draining an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in touch with Ally McDonald.
She then converted a winning birdie putt from 20 feet at 16, and her par at 17 was enough to do her bit, turning to the big screen and watching the conclusion.
About 600 yards away, Law watched Pettersen and American rookie Marina Alex lay up on the par-5 18th, both with birdie putt opportunities.
Alex’s 15-foot putt slipped by the hole. After Pettersen lined up, Law began to celebrate, even before the ball found the bottom of the cup.
“I heard the cheers from the green, and thank god I guessed right or I could have looked foolish,” Law said afterward, referring to her own roar of approval.
For the visitors, there was pride in defeat. Captain Juli Inkster praised her team of six rookies and three others with limited experience.
“You know what? They just played a little better than us, and that’s the way it goes in golf,” she said. “I couldn’t ask any more of these girls.”
Some people smiled when they recalled Pettersen’s selection being announced, revealing that it had baffled some American players. The Europeans knew better.
“I just love my teammates,” Pettersen said. “If it wasn’t for all of these girls, it wouldn’t have even mattered, my putt coming down to the end. It’s an absolute team effort.
“But the 18th hole, the last shot, the last putt, last shot, it’s the ultimate scenario, really.”
European golf, in both the Ryder and the Solheim Cups, has always championed leaders. For what Severiano Ballesteros is to the Ryder Cup, Pettersen deserves as much glory in the Solheim Cup.
She leads, inspires and sometimes makes mistakes, but she has always possessed the uncanny ability to find herself in center stage.
On Sunday, she delivered her final blow, and maybe Europe’s greatest one, too.
“So that’s it,” Pettersen said. “That’s me and the Solheim Cup forever. A chapter to close.”