Team events seem to bring out the best in people and that was highlighted again in an amazing week’s golf at the Solheim Cup.
The United States were without doubt the better team and deserved to retain the trophy but Europe put up a great fight and there were so many brilliant shots from both sides.
Nothing exemplified that more than Sunday’s top singles match between Anna Nordqvist and world No2 Lexi Thompson.
When you’ve been put out first by your captain, you know what’s expected from you: get your name on the board and win your match. And Nordqvist, Europe’s top player, got off to a great start.
She was four up on the front nine, but Thompson responded by playing eight holes in seven under par to seize the advantage. Nordqvist then conjured an extraordinary birdie on the last hole to halve the match.
It was an incredible performance from both players and wonderful to watch.
The fact that Nordqvist had glandular fever three weeks ago and couldn’t get out of bed makes it all the more remarkable.
The Swede dragged out every ounce of strength that she had to win three and half points from her four matches.
Europe fought so bravely after the two hammer blows of Suzann Pettersen’s back going out on the eve of the competition and then Charley Hull aggravating a wrist injury on Friday.
Amazingly, Hull came back to win her singles match with Brittany Lang and who knows what might have happened if Europe hadn’t lost the Englishwoman for a whole day’s play on Saturday. It wasn’t to be.
I also thought Catriona Matthew was magnificent. The Scot started the week as non-playing vice captain but on Tuesday was getting her clubs ready after Pettersen’s withdrawal.
To win her first two matches and then her singles contest on Sunday was an outstanding performance.
Stenson rediscovers winning touch
Well done to Henrik Stenson, who looked back to his best in winning the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour – his first title since triumphing at the Open last year.
It’s great to see him back and at 41, the Swede has definitely still got it. I had my best year at 43, and nowadays players are a lot fitter and stronger than I was.
Stenson, like Masters champion Sergio Garcia, has struggled to win again after his breakthrough Major victory. It’s one of those golfing conundrums.
Both men are a similar age – Garcia is 37 – and winning a first Major at that stage of your career must be such a wonderful relief that it’s hard to get yourself up and fight again.
Stenson’s return to top form may have come too late for this year’s Majors but, with the FedExCup Playoffs about to start this week, it’s still a great time to start winning.
It was tight at the end on Sunday, with Stenson needing four birdies in his last six holes to see off rookie Ollie Schniederjans in a two-horse race.
The American played great and that head-to-head battle will be useful experience should he make it to the Ryder Cup.
Otaegui spoils Siem party
Another young prospect impressing this week was Adrian Otaegui, who denied Marcel Siem a home victory at the Paul Lawrie Match Play in Germany.
Siem will feel very aggrieved, having been three up on the front nine in the final, but Otaegui played great golf to fight back.
The Spaniard is a protege of Jose Maria Olazabal and you could see a similar desire in the way Otaegui recovered on Sunday.