WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – The United States team leads the PING Junior Solheim Cup, 4-3, after foursome matches were suspended because of darkness. Weather moving through the area forced a suspension for 3 hours, 33 minutes but at the completion of four-ball matches, the United States and Europe were tied 3-3.
Modeled after the Solheim Cup, the PING Junior Solheim Cup features the 12 best female junior golfers (ages 12-18) from the United States against the 12 best junior girls from Europe for the ninth year. The team match play event includes foursomes, four-ball and singles matches played over two days and rotates between U.S. and European host sites coinciding with the Solheim Cup. The biennial PING Junior Solheim Cup is being staged for the at Des Moines Golf and Country Club and for the first time domestically at the same host venue.
The United States leads the all-time series 5-2-1 and has won the previous four contests, including 2015, which was the first time either team won on foreign soil.
Team Europe earned the first point in four-ball competition as Esther Henseleit of Germany, and Emma Spitz of Austria, earned an early lead and never looked back. Through the front nine, the Europeans were 2-up and made three consecutive birdies on the back to close out the match out against Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California, and Yealimi Noh of Concord, California, 5&4. Henseleit made a 35-foot final putt for birdie on No. 14 to end the match.
The United States team led as many as four matches off-and-on during a morning of lead changes. Emilia Migliaccio of Cary, North Carolina, and Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee, made a strong opening combo for the United States, with experience playing together in two Wyndham Cups (the AJGA’s annual East versus West Ryder Cup-style event with boys and girls).
Americans Gina Kim and Jennifer Chang also channeled chemistry from Wyndham Cup, leading by as many as 4-up through 12 holes to secure a Team USA point. Kaitlyn Papp of Austin, Texas, and Brooke Seay of Rancho Santa Fe, California, won their match 2&1. Papp, a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, also won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.
In the penultimate match of the morning, France’s Mathilde Claisse nailed two back-to-back birdies down the stretch to earn a point for the Europeans. She and partner Julia Engström of Sweden, fought back from 2-down to play most of the back nine all square.
Swedes Linn Grant and Amanda Linnér were 2-up after 16 holes, but recently-crowned 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Indiana, birdied No. 17 to extend the match. The Europeans’ par was good for the final point of four-ball and a tie in matches.
In the lone foursome match to finish in the evening, Heck and Seay teamed up for a 4&3 victory using an eagle on No. 9 to go 3-up at the turn. When play was suspended after 8 p.m., Europe led in three matches and two matches were all square.
Foursomes play will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 16, followed by singles.
About the PING Junior Solheim Cup
The PING Junior Solheim Cup is owned by PING and will be operated by the American Junior Golf Association with assistance from the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the Ladies European Tour.
Founded by Karsten and Louise Solheim, the Karsten Manufacturing Corporation is a long-time sponsor of the LPGA and AJGA. As the makers of PING golf equipment, the Solheim family continues to ensure the same superior workmanship today that they built into their original clubs more than 50 years ago. Now under the direction of John Solheim, Karsten and Louise’s youngest son, the company continues in its efforts to manufacture the highest quality golf equipment. The PING name is known world over. Besides its presence in the United States, PING markets custom-fit and custom-built equipment to more than 70 countries.
The tournament owner and title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit ping.com.
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 6,600 members from 50 states and 55 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 600 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas, Stacy Lewis, Ariya Jutanugarn , Alison Lee, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel.
TUESDAY FOUR-BALL MATCHES (MORNING)
Emilia Migliaccio of Cary, North Carolina, and Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee, def. Maja Stark of Sweden, and Letizia Bagnoli of Italy, 2-up.
Gina Kim of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Jennifer Chang of Cary, North Carolina, def. Beatrice Wallin of Sweden, and Frida Kinhult of Sweden, 3&1.
Emma Spitz of Austria, and Esther Henseleit of Germany, def. Yealimi Noh of Concord, California, and Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California, 5&4.
Brooke Seay of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Kaitlyn Papp of Austin, Texas, def. Alessia Nobilio of Italy, and Alessandra Fanali of Italy, 2&1.
Mathilde Claisse of France, and Julia Engstrom of Sweden, def. Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, and Youngin Chun of Gainesville, Florida, 2&1.
Linn Grant of Sweden, and Amanda Linner of Sweden, def. Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Indiana, and Alyaa Abdulghany of Newport Beach, California, 2-up.
TUESDAY FOURSOME MATCHES (AFTERNOON)
Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee, and Brooke Seay of Rancho Santa Fe, California, def. Maja Stark of Sweden, and Letizia Bagnoli of Italy, 4&3.
Matches will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 16.