U.S. sweeps opening session of Solheim Cup

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ANDALUCIA, Spain — U.S. team captain Stacy Lewis saw something good in Solheim Cup veteran Lexi Thompson‘s game in practice rounds at Finca Cortesin earlier this week, even if she hadn’t seen it from Thompson during most of the LPGA Tour season.

Lewis’ gamble to start Thompson in the opening session of the 18th Solheim Cup — and leave two-time major championship winner Lilia Vu and rookie Rose Zhang on the bench — paid off in a big way on Friday morning, as the Americans swept the foursome (alternate shot) matches to take a 4-0 lead over Europe.

It is the first time the U.S. has started 4-0 in the Solheim Cup. It had never swept a foursomes session before Friday.

The teams will head back out on the course later Friday for four four-ball (best ball) matches. The team that won the opening session has captured the Solheim Cup in eight of the previous 11 instances (there were also six ties).

Europe is trying to win the event a third straight time, which it has never done since the event’s inception in 1990.

Thompson and Megan Khang gave the U.S. team a lot of early momentum in the opening match. The U.S. duo won each of the first three holes, as the Swedish team of Linn Grant and Maja Stark showed early nerves. The Europeans carded bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3 to fall 3 down. The Europeans eventually fought their way back to tie the match with a birdie on the par-3 14th.

Then the Americans had a birdie on the par-4 15th to go 1 up and closed out the Europeans with a par on the par-3 17th to pick up a second point for the U.S.

Thompson, 28, had limped through one of her worst seasons as a professional, missing the cut in eight of 11 starts on the LPGA Tour. She was 138th in the circuit’s season-long points race.

Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight made quick work of England’s Charley Hull and Denmark’s Emily K. Pedersen in a 5 & 4 victory to pick up the Americans’ first point. The U.S. duo took six holes on the front nine and never looked back.

Ewing and Knight were steady but also took advantage of several mistakes by the Europeans, who had bogeys on Nos. 2, 5 and 6 and double-bogeys on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Europeans’ lone victory in the match came on the par-3 10th hole, but it was too little, too late.

Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee captured the third point by defeating France’s Celine Boutier and England’s Georgia Hall, 1 up. Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz completed the sweep by closing out Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist on the 18th hole for a 1-up victory.

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