- Associated Press - Saturday, August 17, 2013

PARKER, COLO. (AP) - One day later, one hole further down the golf course, Solheim Cup rules officials found themselves in another drawn-out dispute over where to drop balls that flew into a hazard.

Saturday’s row, which European captains timed at 31 minutes, came on the par-5 16th and involved American Cristie Kerr and Europe’s Beatriz Recari, both of whom teed off into the hazard that separates the split fairways on the 532-yard hole.

The sides couldn’t reach agreement on where either drop should come. The bigger problem appeared to be deciding where Recari’s shot entered the hazard.

LPGA Tour official Brad Alexander, who admitted rules officials had erred in the protracted case involving Europe’s Carlota Ciganda on No. 15 the day before, watched replays on TV and came out to the course but that didn’t offer any quick resolution.

After Recari finally dropped, she hit her third shot onto the green and had a 25-foot putt to close the match. She missed and the players moved to 18 before the Europeans closed out a 1-up victory and a sweep of the best-ball matches, courtesy of Karin Icher’s 45-foot putt from off the fringe.

Still miffed at the prolonged argument long after the match was over, Recari gave a detailed explanation. Her version: Three spotters said they saw the ball bounce on the ground and cross the line of the hazard. The Americans, meanwhile, heard Recari shouting at the ball to “get right,” which suggested to them it was over the hazard the entire time and never hit the ground.

“Bottom line, they won the hole,” Recari said. “I mean, we have to be adults. … If it’s inconclusive, we have to come to agreement. That was the argument for 31 minutes, the referee and all of us trying to figure it out. And we went back and forth.”

One major difference between the Friday and Saturday disputes: America had no momentum to lose, the way it did when Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson got held up for nearly a half-hour on the 15th hole while officials figured out where Ciganda should drop.

Ciganda got up and down to save par en route to a victory on Friday. Recari’s drop wound up making no difference in the match, but Europe still walked away with the win and the 10 1/2-5 1/2 lead heading into Sunday singles.

“It took forever, it was a mess, and it made everybody a little frazzled,” Kerr said. “And I mean, really, where my ball crossed, it kind of wasn’t a question. But we were just trying to get it right. And we had to go to TV, and that took forever. And then the fans got anxious and it was weird.”


THE NEW SPANISH ARMADA: Carlota Ciganda looked like a different player Saturday than she did in her Solheim Cup debut.

The reason: Her partner, Azahara Munoz.

“I met Carlota when she was 8 and I was 11,” Munoz said. “And every time, in the Spanish team, we always play the foursomes together. And ever since I can remember, we are best friends.”

Ciganda made the 12-foot birdie putt to clinch a 1-up victory over Angela Stanford and Gerina Pillar and close out a day that was much different from her opening match. She and Suzann Pettersen won that match, in large part because Ciganda got a favorable _ and incorrect _ ruling about where to drop on the 15th hole, then got up-and-down for a par.

But she was all over the place on Friday, playing from the scrub and weeds through most of the back nine.

On Saturday, with Munoz by her side, it was a much different story.

Cigada made the first of four birdies on No. 2 and, of course, saved the best one for last _ after curling a 7-iron close on the uphill 18th.

“Today it was like playing just a normal event like we used to in Spain or even in Europe,” Ciganda said. “So I trust her and I think she trusts me, too.”


HEATED MOMENT: Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson were involved in an argument on the seventh green when Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff conceded Creamer’s par putt after Creamer had lined it up and was ready to make the stroke.

Europe already had a birdie and Creamer’s putt for par was on the same line as her partner, who had a birdie putt to halve the hole.

As Creamer was getting ready to putt, European assistant captain Annika Sorenstam shouted that her team should concede the putt. Ewart-Shadoff’s caddie then told Creamer, “That’s good.”

The Europeans didn’t want to give Thompson a free look at the line. Under the Rules of Golf, when they conceded Creamer’s putt, she wasn’t allowed to make the stroke because it would assist her partner.

An argument ensued, and shortly afterward, Thompson made her putt anyway, accentuating it with a big fist pump. It drew the match to even, but the Americans ended up losing, 2 down.

“Things happen out there,” Creamer said. “It’s an unfortunate thing. I think you should kind of know the rules of match play, for sure, when you’re out there, but at the same time, Jodi and Charley apologized for what happened.”

American captain Meg Mallon said Solheim Cup officials spoke with USGA officials, who said Sorenstam’s directive didn’t count as “advice,” and therefore didn’t violate a rule that allows only head captains to advise the players.

Ewart-Shadoff said it was much ado about nothing, given that Thompson made the putt.

“We kind of were unsure about what the rule was about playing out when we had already made the birdie,” she said. “At the end of the day, they made the putt and there’s nothing really to say about it.”


SHORT SHOTS: Giulia Sergas was the only European to only play one match over the first two days. … Americans who haven’t tallied a point yet: Lexi Thompson, Gerina Pillar and Angela Stanford, who is on a six-match losing streak. … By splitting her matches Saturday, Michelle Wie moved to 5-1-1 lifetime when playing as a captain’s pick.

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