GOLF IS A STRANGE GAME. Europe was on its way to a third consecutive victory in the Solheim Cup when European star Suzann Pettersen delivered a devastating blow to sportsmanship.
American Alison Lee thought her short putt on the 17th hole had been conceded by her opponents. Pettersen insisted that was not the case, meaning Europe won the hole. One hole later, Europe won the match, 1-up, to take a commanding 10-6 lead heading into the singles matches, which was the final session of the competition.
You can watch the awkward sequence of events in the above video.
Pettersen was within the rules, but sometimes the rules offer no solace, especially in golf. Caught up in the heat of competition, Pettersen violated the spirit of the game. She made her European partner Charley Hull cry and U.S. captain Juli Inkster curse. She sparked a firestorm of criticism on both sides of the Atlantic and inspired an epic American comeback in singles.
In the end, the United States won the Solheim Cup 14.5 to 13.5 and Pettersen offered an apology on Instagram:
I've never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup.
I am so sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle and competition. I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself! I feel like I let my team down and I am sorry.
To the U.S. team, you guys have a great leader in Juli, who I've always looked up to and respect so much. Knowing I need to make things "right," I had a face to face chat with her before leaving Germany this morning to tell her in person how I really feel about all of this. I wanted her also to know that I am sorry.
I hope in time the U.S. team will forgive me and know that I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game of golf which has given me so much in my life.
To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself. I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me.
The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can't.
This week I want to push forward toward another opportunity to earn the Solheim Cup back for Europe in the right way. And I want to work hard to earn back your belief in me as someone who plays hard, plays fair and plays the great game of golf the right way.In addition, European captain Carin Koch defended Pettersen's actions at the time, which I found equally disturbing considering Koch's role.
The pressures of this game can reveal character and greatness, but they also expose flaws, even in otherwise good and strong people. The game, and how it should be played, humbled an elite player in Germany yesterday. I expect Pettersen will learn from the incident. In any case, she will never be quite the same.