Golf: US takes early lead at Solheim Cup

SUGAR GROVE, Illinois: Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang picked up the first point for the United States, and Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr rallied to win for the Americans to lead the Solheim Cup 2{-1{ after fourball matches on Friday.

It could have been bigger, but British Women's Open champ Catriona Matthew made a clutch putt on 18 to halve her and Maria Hjorth's match with Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie.

The United States needs 14 points to win its third straight Solheim Cup. Europe, which has never won on U.S. soil, needs 14{.

Lincicome and Lang set the tone for the Americans, going 5-up on Laura Davies and Becky Brewerton after 11 holes.

Brewerton and Davies, who struggled with location all day, got a hole back on 12 - providing some entertainment along the way.

The 342-yard par-4 doglegs so sharply it's practically a right angle, and Davies kept eyeing the hole as the Americans and Brewerton teed off, testing the wind and different woods.

With the other three balls in the fairway, Davies waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, the group ahead left the green and Davies went for it.

Her shot cleared the cluster of trees down the left side - put there to keep people from doing what Davies did - but her ball landed well short of the green in a patch of weeds.

No matter. Brewerton put her approach shot 5 feet above the hole, then knocked it in for a birdie.

Lincicome had a chance to match her from about the same distance, but it missed by 2 feet.

Lang made a 4-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th, sending the Americans to 14 needing only to halve the hole for the win.

Brewerton buried her second shot so deep in the sand behind the green only the very top of the ball was visible.

She grimaced and stuck her tongue out when she saw it.

"Got any ideas?" Brewerton asked Davies, standing across the green.

One fan suggested picking it up and putting it in her pocket.

She didn't do that, but she may as well have with her ball advancing only a few feet and into rough.

That left it to Davies, but her 30-footer for birdie ran long.

Needing only to two-putt for par from about 25 feet, Lincicome looked as if she might birdie the hole.

The ball curled at the last second, though, running inches by.

Still, the Americans were on the board with their first point.

Creamer's and Kerr's victory wasn't nearly as easy, never leading until Creamer buried a 45-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th.

When the ball dropped in, cheers from the raucous crowd echoed around Rich Harvest Farms.

Kerr matched Pettersen's birdie on the 17th hole before closing it out with an 8-footer on 18.

"Kerr made some great putts that really helped us," said Creamer, who needed help from her partner on several holes.

She clipped a tree on 12, and gave up on the par-5 11th after a poor hit knocked the ball just a few feet.

"I was telling Kerr on the front 9: This is all you," Creamer said.

"The biggest thing was that birdie on 17. Just changed the momentum going into 18, a birdie hole for the longer hitters."

After trailing most of the front nine, Wie and Pressel got back into the match when Wie birdied the 13th.

She made a 10-footer on the next hole for par, freeing Pressel to knock in an 8-foot birdie.

But they couldn't hold onto the lead on 18. Wie went into the deep rough off the tee and could do little more than punch out.

When her ball landed in an old, muddy divot, rules officials gave her relief - much to the annoyance of the Europeans.

The area hadn't been marked, because it was between shots, and captain Alison Nicholas spent several minutes questioning rules officials.

It wound up not mattering. Wie went into the frontside bunker on her next shot, while Pressel's chip from the rough around the green ran all the way to the other side.

That left Matthew with a 12-footer, and she made it easily. - AP

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