Walker proud after stellar singles – but Europe lose Junior Solheim Cup again

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Team USA the 2019 Ping Junior Solheim Cup winners at Gleneagles
Team USA won the PING Junior Solheim Cup for the fourth time in a row at Gleneagles, beating Europe 13-11 despite the hosts narrowly winning the singles. Picture by WME / IMG

TEAM USA held off a spirited fightback by Europe to claim their fourth consecutive victory in the Ping Junior Solheim Cup with a 13-11 points triumph at Gleneagles.

The visitors took a 7½-4½ lead into Wednesday’s singles session after drawing the foursomes 3-3 and then convincingly winning the fourballs 4½-1½, and closed out the win when Brianna Navarrosa beat Somerset’s Mimi Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow GC) by one hole.

Earlier in the day, Scotland’s Hannah Darling (Broomieknowe GC) grabbed a half point when out first against Lucy Li, and wins for Surrey’s Annabell Fuller (Roehampton GC), Denmark’s Amalie Leth-Nissen and Slovakia’s Pia Babnik, who birdied four straight holes to win 2&1, narrowed the gap.

However, Rose Zhang stemmed the tide in match two, and triumphs for Amanda Sambach, Briana Chacon – who beat Essex’s Lily May Humphrey’s 6&4 – and then Navarrosa took the USA to the all-important 12 points needed to retain the trophy,

Christine Wang then made it 13 points when she beat Germany’s Paula Shulz-Hanssen in match 10.

American captain Mary Bea Porter-King said: “‘It was quite the victory, very close, it went up and down all day. They were ahead, then behind. I’m exhausted and I didn’t hit a shot.

“I’m very proud of my team, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to help them – these young ladies are so talented, on both sides.

“I am so impressed to see the golf swings and how they play the game, which makes me feel good about the future of the game.”

Mickey Walker, who captained Europe in the first four Solheim Cups, and manged the continent’s girls team this week, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the European team.

“They’re very, very talented and we’ve had a wonderful time here. It’s been just amazing, one of the best experiences of my life,” added the former Essex club pro, who won six times on the Ladies European Tour and played in the 1972 Curtis Cup before turning pro.

“I think we were good enough to win, but we just missed out by virtue of a poor session in the afternoon yesterday.

“That’s what did for us. If you took the singles as a standalone competition, we won today,” Walker added.

“But we knew we needed to get eight-and-a-half points and we came up just short. It’s wrong to mention individuals because we really are a team.

“But Pia Babnik is the first-ever junior to play in this from Slovenia and beat Rachel Heck – an incredible scalp.

“Rachel’s one of the best American golfers and Pia is relatively inexperienced. The same for Lucie Malchirand beating Alexa Pano in the final match.

“So it augers very well for the future, and a lot of our team will still be young enough to play in two years’ time.”

•For the full scores click here.

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