x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Crowd lifts the USA to a rousing victory

Alison Nicholas, the European captain, paid tribute to the way in which the US players and the partisan crowd had worked so well together.

Christina Kim, all flying pigtails and earrings, was the player who worked the crowd better than anyone during the Solheim Cup.
Christina Kim, all flying pigtails and earrings, was the player who worked the crowd better than anyone during the Solheim Cup.

Following America's 16-12 defeat of Europe in the Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, Alison Nicholas, the European captain, paid tribute to the way in which the US players and the partisan crowd had worked so well together. "The American players are always giving it 'this'," she said, imitating the hand signals they had employed to rouse their supporters.

"I don't think that the Europeans are quite so good at getting their fans going. Maybe they need to learn." The Irish crowd at Killeen Castle, where the match is to be held at the next time of asking, would not need too much encouragement to make their presence felt. They were hugely enthusiastic at the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club, while there is the further point that women's golf in Ireland is only marginally less popular than the men's game.

Kristy McPherson, one of the US rookies, said the Rich Harvest Farms spectators had been worth a couple of points to the her side. "Every time we needed a bit of a pick up, they provided it," she said. "I'm sure they must have got under the other girls' skins but they certainly did a good job for our lot." For the record, the Americans won six of the 12 singles, halved four and lost two. Christina Kim, all flying pigtails and earrings, was the player who worked the crowd better than anyone. Though there were those who felt that she leapt around the place rather too much for the liking of Spain's Tania Elosegui in the singles, no-one could deny that she added to the atmosphere. She had the trick of making the spectators feel thoroughly involved.

If Europe's Laura Davies felt that there were moments when Kim was a bit over the top, she was not about to say so. Not at the end of a week when she had already had a bit of a fall-out with her captain over the way she was left on the sidelines for three games out of a possible five. Though Nicholas had advised the press that Davies was "fine" with being dropped, she had apparently been referring to a start-of-the-week conversation in which she had old the player that she would be rested at some point.

Davies only began to kick up a fuss when, after missing out on Friday afternoon's foursomes and Saturday morning's four-balls, she heard the rumour which preceded the news that she was not in the line-up for Saturday afternoon's foursomes. She was patently still peeved when she took the tee yesterday but, by the time she had started with a par and a birdie in a match which she would eventually square with Brittany Lang, this great character was back to her old self.

On Sunday night, Davies, who had earlier denied that she would ever take on the captaincy, indicated that she might be persuaded otherwise. "OK," she said, when pressed, "there's a billionth of a chance that I might do it if I'm asked." Nicholas made a great fist of the job. In much the same way as applied with Sam Torrance when he took on the Ryder Cup captaincy, she worked night and day in a bid to do everything as well as she could. Besides following Torrance's lead in picking the brains of any number of previous captains, she used the same David Purdy to help with her speeches.

The only speech she did not learn off by heart was the one at the closing ceremony. Though she was word perfect on the winner's speech she had prepared, she had refused to allow herself to concentrate over-long on the loser's version. sports@thenational.ae