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Color this Showdown at Solheim red, white & blue
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Christina Kim celebrates with one of her teammates after the USA team won the final round of play at the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Michelle Wie waves an American Flag after Team USA defeated Europe at the final round of the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove on Sunday.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

Christina Kim celebrates with one of her teammates after the USA team won the final round of play at the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

U.S.A. captain Beth Daniel runs with the flag around the 18th green at the final round of the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove on Sunday.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

Morgan Pressel reacts after winning her match on the 16th hole, and securing the cup for the U.S.A. at the final round of the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove on Sunday.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

Team USA's Morgan Pressel reacts after making a putt on the fifth hole during a singles match at the Solheim Cup golf tournament Sunday.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 8/23/2009 3:58 PM | Updated: 8/23/2009 8:58 PM

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From the farm fields of Sugar Grove, Jerry Rich built it and they came.

And came.

From all over the Chicagoland area, from all 50 states and from across the pond, more than 120,000 golf fans made the trek to see Rich's baby, Rich Harvest Farms, serve - and thrive - as the host site for the 2009 Solheim Cup.

And boy did they get their money's worth in a competition between the United States and Europe that many people figured would be no competition at all.

Coming into Sunday's singles matches tied at 8-apiece, the never-say-die Europeans led for much of the front nine before the Americans, boosted by a wild partisan crowd, switched into overdrive down the stretch to pull out a 16-12 victory, their third consecutive Cup win.

"I've only played (the Solheim) overseas, and I knew how important it was to keep them quiet," said U.S. player Angela Stanford, who defeated Becky Brewerton 5&4. "Now we needed to make them loud because it affects you.

"Becky asked me one time not to walk up to the green and mark my ball because she didn't want to have to listen to it. I think that says a lot for the fans. They were awesome."

As was the comeback by the heavily favored U.S. team.

"For most of the day I didn't think it would happen," a choked up U.S. captain Beth Daniel said moments after the Americans clinched. "We really had to dig deep, and it basically came down to the back nine."

After wins by leadoff women Paula Creamer, Stanford and rookie Michelle Wie, it would come down to the back half of Daniel's lineup if the U.S. was going to keep its perfect home record intact.

As the afternoon progressed, the scoreboard slowly began to morph from European blue to American red, as player after player rallied.

There was Cristie Kerr fighting back from 2 down to halve with Maria Hjorth. There was Natalie Gulbis mounting a furious charge against Janice Moodie to get to all square.

Brittany Lang, two down with two to go, caught and tied Laura Davies on 18.

And in perhaps the most inspiring moment of the tournament, there was 49-year-old Juli Inkster halving unbeaten Gwladys Nocera in what would be Inkster's final Solheim Cup as a player.

"I just kept chattering to myself that this is an important match," Inkster said. "'You've got to get at least a half a point here. It's only two holes. If you can't win two holes you don't deserve to be out here.'"

The emotional comeback by the Americans overshadowed a heavy-mettle effort by a European team that came in as heavy underdogs, yet never looked the role on the course.

"They played their hearts out," European captain Alison Nicholas said. "Unfortunately the Americans birdied a few more holes than we did.

"But I can thank them for a great experience."

One that few will soon forget.

"This is so important to us," said Morgan Pressel, whose win over Anna Nordqvist Sunday clinched the title for Team USA. "It's about pride. It's not about the money list, it's not about the rankings - it's not about any of that.

"This is about our country and it's about our teammates and about our captains, and it's just -"

We'll give the captain the final word.

"They really had to dig deep to win this," Daniel said. "I'm so proud of each and every one of them."