(Reuters) - The United States beat Europe by five points to retain the Solheim Cup in Iowa on Sunday as the Americans continued their near invincibility on home soil.
The U.S. started the 12 singles matches on the final day with a five-point lead, needing only four more points to secure victory at Des Moines Country Club.
After an early European rally, the U.S. steadied to close it out reasonably comfortably, winning 16-1/2 to 11-1/2 in front of huge and enthusiastic galleries.
The teams shared the Sunday spoils, both winning five singles matches, while the other two were halved.
“The Europeans made it really close. Today I was a little bit nervous,” U.S. captain Juli Inkster told Golf Channel.
European captain Annika Sorenstam acknowledged that the better team had won.
“We just got outplayed,” she said. “I’m just so proud of how (my team) fought. It’s hard coming out on Sunday so far behind. I just congratulate the U.S. They played awesome golf.”
The U.S. improved to 10-5 in the history of the biennial event which started in 1990.
The Americans are 7-1 at home, their only loss coming four years ago in Colorado.
Dominance in fourball matches was the key to the U.S. victory this time.
They picked up seven out of eight points in the format, which more than made up for the slightly better European record in foursomes (alternate shot) matches.
Europe, needing all the stars to align on Sunday to have any chance of winning, sent out their top-ranked player Anna Nordqvist against Lexi Thompson in the first match, which turned into one of the most memorable contests in Cup history.
Thompson, four-down after nine holes, launched her comeback by holing out from 112 yards to win the par-five 11th with an eagle.
She remarkably had a chance to win two-up at the penultimate hole, but missed a four-foot putt, and Nordqvist responded to the reprieve by hitting her eight-iron approach stiff at the par-four 18th for a conceded birdie, winning the hole and halving the match when Thompson missed her 20-foot putt.
“That had to be the weirdest round of golf I’ve ever played,” Thompson said.
“Front nine I don’t think I was awake and back nine I played lights out. It was just a crazy round but Anna played great.”
Nordqvist admitted getting rattled by Thompson’s back nine comeback.
“I got a little shaky there in the middle watching her make birdies and eagles but she gave me the chance missing that putt on 17,” said the Swede.
“I’m very impressed with her back nine and very proud of myself.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Clare Fallon