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Best Solheim Cup ever? Talking points from Europe's historic 14-14 draw with USA at Finca Cortesin

Team Europe extended their unbeaten steak in the Solheim Cup and retained the trophy after an epic 14-14 draw against Team USA at Finca Cortesin; Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis will both serve as captains again for the 2024 contest

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The best of the action from day three of the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Spain

It was always going to take something special to get anywhere near the dramatic finish we witnessed at Gleneagles in the 2019 Solheim Cup, but this year's contest at Finca Cortesin came about as close as you can get.

Suzann Pettersen was the hero four years ago as she signed off her playing career by claiming the winning point in a 14.5-13.5 success, with the Norwegian given the task this time around of attempting to lead Team Europe to a historic third consecutive victory.

Hopes of a threepeat appeared over when Team USA claimed a clean sweep in the Friday foursomes and were leading that afternoon, but Pettersen's side dug deep to battle back and drag the contest level heading into the Sunday singles.

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Leona Maguire made five birdies and an eagle at Finca Cortesin to win 4&3 against Rose Zhang in their Sunday singles match at the Solheim Cup

Europe's strong start to the final day disappeared when Stacy Lewis' American team pulled 13-11 clear with just four matches on the course, only for Caroline Hedwall, Maja Stark and home favourite Carlota Ciganda to deliver and salvage the first 14-14 draw in the tournament's history.

Pettersen proud of historic fightback

Captain Pettersen described retaining the trophy as a "dream come true" and admitted the shock start on Friday morning may have been the fuel they needed to put together such a resolute performance.

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Suzann Pettersen says Europe 'never looked back' after the rough start and Carlota Ciganda seized her moment on the final day

"Does it get any better than this?" Pettersen said. "I mean, this is a dream come true. We had a massive challenge ahead of us today. We've created history yet again in the Solheim Cup, and these girls are legends.

"We got off to a rocky start, but I wonder if it was almost a nice wake-up call for all of us. We've all been on a pretty much high road for a few years now, and maybe that was meant to happen.

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Ciganda says it was an amazing experience to retain the Solheim Cup in Spain and her magical shot on 16 was for Pettersen

"I just said [to the players], you get knocked down, you stand back up. You know what, life can be tough, but it's how you stand back up, and that shows character. I think it really shows the character of this team."

Ciganda and Hedwall take Europe's praise

Pettersen paid tribute to Hedwall, a controversial captain's pick who had sat out the first three sessions before claiming a dramatic win in the singles, with the captain also crediting Ciganda after her unbeaten performance.

"I can sit here and talk about each and every one of them," Pettersen added. "I also would like to give some extra credit to Caroline Hedwall that turned around the match. I feel like she had the crucial point. She teed it nicely up for Carlota to just bring it home on 16 and 17."

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Caroline Hedwall used all her Solheim Cup experience to grab an unlikely point for Europe when she won the final two holes against Ally Ewing

Leona Maguire, who won 4&3 earlier in the day to earn Europe's first point of the singles, added: "I think, very fitting that Carlota was the star of the show this week and got to hole the winning putt. The girls were incredible this week."

Ciganda refused to take full credit for her victory and said in her post-tournament press conference: "It's not just me, it's the whole team. Europe is always a team. We are united, we fight, and after that Friday morning, we just went out there and we knew we could do this, and I'm very proud."

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Ciganda produced some scintillating golf on 16 and 17 to beat Nelly Korda in the singles and gain the crucial point needed to retain the Solheim Cup for Europe

Ryder Cup stars lead Team Europe praise

The Solheim Cup is the first of back-to-back team golf events and the manner of how Europe recovered from Friday's nightmare start and falling behind again during the singles did not go unnoticed by Luke Donald and several Ryder Cup players from past and present.

The former world No 1 tweeted: "A couple of daggers from Carlota to turn her match around on 16 & 17. What a performance from @SolheimCupEuro & @suzannpettersen to retain the Cup. Well done ladies! "

Donald's post was shared by Ryder Cup Europe and several of his team for next week's biennial contest at Marco Simone GC, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose, with Padraig Harrington and Justin Thomas among the other notable players to praise Pettersen's side.

Thomas said: "Unbelievable finish at @TheSolheimCup. Those clutch shots by @carlotagolf were amazing. Loved to see @Lexi go out and play great today in the anchor match. Extremely proud and happy for @CKnightGolf33 and her great play this week. Repping @AlabamaWGolf!"

Harrington added: "What an incredible performance from four points down by @suzannpettersen and her team @TheSolheimCup. Particularly brilliant by Caroline Hedwall and @carlotagolf to turn their matches at the end with some great play."

Lewis takes positives from near-miss

Team USA's failure to turn a 13-11 lead into a victory means they are still without a Solheim Cup victory since 2017 and have failed to win on European soil since 2015, although Lewis feels her side can take plenty of encouragement into next year's contest.

"I don't want to sound like a sore loser, but it was a tie, and I think that's a lot for this team to build off of," Lewis said. "Especially coming over here, coming into this environment with five rookies, a very young and inexperienced team, I mean, this week was really, really good for them.

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Lexi Thompson stayed calm on the 17th to roll in the par putt that beat Emily Pedersen and ensure the Solheim Cup ended all square

"The whole week in general feels like a win. Just where we were coming from out of Toledo [2021 Solheim Cup] to where this team is at now, it was a win, and that's all that matters. I think it's more about these girls, where they are mentally, how they felt about this. They were crying because it meant something to them, and that's all I was trying to achieve."

Big future ahead for the Solheim Cup?

The historic draw means that four of the five editions have resulted in Team Europe and Team USA being separated by a point or less, with three-time Solheim Cup player Christina Kim excited by the future of the biennial contest.

"This was just such an enthralling week and I'm so proud of all 24 women on both sides," Kim told Sky Sports. "You couldn't have drummed up a better result, you really could not have.

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Maguire had the crowd on their feet when she holed a big eagle putt on the 14th and moved to 4up in her match with Zhang

"This is so indicative of what the future holds for the Solheim Cup, for golf, for women in general - this is such an important week. As an American I would have loved for the USA to have won the cup, but the golf is what really matters at the end of this.

"I absolutely think this is what's set in stone for the next couple of decades. It's just going to be absolutely remarkable. Even though people say this is by far and away the best European team in the Solheim Cup, this is only the beginning. It gives continued validation to the European players.

"A lot of times people have said that European players feel like they've been cast aside compared to the American team, but I've seen this coming for a very long time, and the talent is just so deep in professional women's golf that this is the new standard."

Live Ryder Cup Golf

What's next?

Team golf continues this week at the Ryder Cup, where Team Europe look to regain the trophy after a record-breaking loss at Whistling Straits in 2021. The opening ceremony is live on Thursday from 3pm and the preview show is live from 7pm later that day, while live coverage from the opening day begins on Friday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf.

Solheim Cups will return to even-numbered years from 2024, with Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia hosting next year's contest from September 13-15. Stream the Ryder Cup and more with NOW.

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