The United States women's golf team has proved they are anything but a group of "Chokin' freakin' dogs" they had been labelled with as they crushed Europe in the Solheim Cup in Halmsted, Sweden at the weekend.
The Americans won the singles 8.5-3.5 to finish ahead 16-12 and win the cup on foreign soil for only the second time.
The victory was made even sweeter after comments from former US player Dottie Pepper, now an analyst on The Golf Channel.
On Sunday (NZ time), after the US turned a couple of looming wins into disappointing halves, Pepper called the Americans "Chokin' freakin' dogs" - a comment she made when she thought she was off the air, but wasn't.
"It was hurtful, very, very hurtful to all of us on the team," assistant captain Beth Daniel told Associated Press.
"Dottie's been there. She knows what it's like. Even if she said it off the air, it was ill-spirited."
However, back on the air the next day, Pepper said she stood by the comments.
The US had been a point behind at 7.5-8.5 going into the 12 singles but Paula Creamer made sure that the United States would get the 14 points needed to retain the cup when she went dormie three up on Maria Hjorth.
Rookie Nicole Castrale then beat Bettina Hauert 3 and 2 to claim the victory and extend the overall lead to 7-3.
"This is just awesome," said Castrale, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season with her first LPGA victory at the Ginn Tribute in Florida in June. "I played really well and this is one of the best years of my life.
It is the only the second time that an away team has come out on top - the first was when the United States won at St Pierre in Wales in 1996.
"The matches were so close all week and it was a great challenge," said United States Captain, Betsy King. "I'm so proud of the way all our players gelled together and came together as a team.
Europe won the top match with Catriona Matthew defeating Laura Diaz by 3 and 2, but it was a rare blue point.
Pat Hurst, Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford, Stacy Prammansudh and Morgan Pressel all won full points while Sherri Steinhauer won the final hole to secure a half against Becky Brewerton before Castrale completed the business.
Pressel, the youngest Solheim Cup player at 19, claimed one of the biggest scalps of the day, beating former world No 1, Annika Sorenstam, by 2 and 1.
"I'm just so proud of the effort from my team. They fought hard all the way and it was one of the best weeks of my life," European captain Helen Alfredsson said.
"The weather made it very tough but it's been amazing week and my players gave their all. They played from the heart."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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