SUGAR GROVE, Ill. (AP) — Cristie Kerr nearly took the head off of a fake swan, and Michelle Wie overshot the green.

And they still managed to halve the hole.

Kerr and Wie overcame two ragged final holes to salvage a 1-up foursome win at the Solheim Cup on Saturday afternoon, keeping the Americans tied with Europe going into Sunday’s all-important singles matches. The way the Americans have played in singles, that’s almost like having the lead.

“I’m just really proud of them the way they came back. It was not looking too good for us for a while,” U.S. captain Beth Daniel said. “They really rallied in the afternoon, that was huge. Also, it should be a huge momentum swing for us to come back that way. They feel like they’re ahead, and they should feel that way.”

Especially considering their history in singles. The United States has a .602 winning percentage in singles over the course of the tournament, and has lost only three times in singles.

The last time? That would be 2003, also the last time Europe won the Solheim Cup.

The Americans need 14 points to win a third straight Solheim Cup, while Europe needs 14½ points to claim it on U.S. soil for the first time.

“We won today. We’ve got back that point that we were behind, and it’s all looking good for tomorrow,” Europe’s Becky Brewerton said. “We all feel confident.”

Wie and Christina Kim’s easy 5-and-4 victory over Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elosegui in the opening fourball match looked as if it might be the start of a big day for the Americans. While Wie and Kim partied at the green, the raucous crowd chanted “The Cup stays here.”

It was way too early for that.

Europe rallied to win the fourballs 2½-1½ and tie tournament up, then took an early lead in foursomes with two easy wins. And just when it looked as if Wie and Kerr had the tie comfortably in hand, everybody came unglued, which made for some ugly, uncomfortable golf as the light faded.

Wie and Kerr were 2 up on Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist until Hjorth made a 3-footer for birdie on the 16th.

Kerr is one of the steadiest players on the U.S. team, which made her decision on 17 all the more shocking. Wie’s tee shot had gone into the rough on the right side, and there was a big pond between Kerr and the green. Kerr decided to go for it and, sure enough, the ball skipped through the water, nearly hitting one of the fake swans in the middle.

Wie mishit the next shot and it flew the green, landing in deep rough. Kerr made a nice chip that skirted the hole, but it wouldn’t drop.

Most holes, that would mean a loss. But not on this one.

Hjorth went in the sand off the tee and Nordqvist muffed the approach shot. Needing to make a 6-footer for bogey and the hole, Hjorth missed. Wie then rolled in a 3-footer to halve the hole.

The Americans caught more breaks on 18.

Kerr’s drive hit a tree, and kicked out into the fairway. She hit a bad chip shot, and it flew the green, leaving Wie with an 18-foot downhill putt. The ball curved around the edge of the cup and the U.S. team started to jump to its feet to celebrate. But the ball wouldn’t drop, leaving the players stunned.

All Hjorth had to do was make a 6-footer, and Europe would have halved the match. But she couldn’t do it, and the Americans had the win.

“We had a good birdie try, that’s what mattered,” Nordqvist said. “Michelle and Cristie, they played great. It was a great win for them. But I think we hung in there. It came down to 18, but I guess congratulations to them.”

Despite the scrappy end, Wie was clearly the American who carried the day.

Expectations for the big-hitting Hawaiian have been huge since she was in grade school, but injuries and other missteps have cost her. At 19, she’s still looking for her first LPGA Tour win.

But Wie showed Saturday just how formidable she can be. She put an approach shot within 18 inches from 149 yards out on the sixth hole of her fourball match with Christina Kim, starting a run that gave the Americans four straight holes. She didn’t flinch when she needed to make big shots with Kerr. Her drives were impressive, as always, and she showed a deftness with her short game.

Perhaps most impressive was how animated she was. Oh, she’s given fist pumps before, even yelled a few times. But this was Michelle Unplugged. She sprinted along the side of the green after making a nice chip. She played to the crowd, waving her arms and cupping her hand to her ear to urge them to cheer louder. She and Kim even had a special handshake.

“She was so pumped up, I was worried about it,” Daniel said.

She needn’t have been.

Her teammates have said all week that one of the best things about the Solheim Cup has been getting to know Wie, and that the public would know the real her by the time it was all over, too.

“We just had a ball out there,” Wie said. “It was just fun.”


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