The latest Charley Hull sighting here at the 18th Solheim Cup seemed to indicate that the 27-year-old World No. 8 (second only to No. 5 Celine Boutier on the European team) would make an appearance in the second series fourballs. While eight of her teammates were busily contesting the second series of foursomes with their American counterparts — splitting the matches with the US continuing to hold a two-point lead overall (7-5) — Hull spent some time Saturday morning working on her swing on the range in the company of her caddie.
That notion was confirmed when Hull was announced as being paired with Leona Maguire for the first game out of Day 2’s afternoon session, which was surely reassuring from a European point of view. Hull hasn’t been spotted on the mountainous Finca Cortesin course, inside the ropes at least, since the opening morning foursomes. Alongside Emily Kristine Pedersen the now six-time Solheim Cupper played notably poorly in a 5&4 loss to Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight. Since then, nothing, apart from conflicting and confusing news regarding Hull’s physical condition.
If European captain Suzann Pettersen is to be believed, those Friday morning foursomes pairings were revealed to the players as early as Monday evening. Yet, two full days later, Hull was telling Sky Sports that she was struggling with a shoulder injury and was at just “80 per cent or so” of her full capacity.
No matter, Hull duly appeared on the first tee Friday morning, albeit minutes after Pedersen marched past the excited throng gathered to see the players off. It was, to say the least, an odd situation, one Pettersen was clearly unaware of. The 42-year-old Norwegian was seen running back to find Hull, before reappearing maybe two minutes later, the slightly strained looking smile on the captain’s face complimented by a surely significant roll of her eyes.
The Hull mystery continued at the end of play Friday. Having left her out of the afternoon four-balls, Pettersen insisted that “Charley is fine” during the end-of-day press conference. But, minutes later when the pairings for the second morning were released to the media, the runner-up in this year’s US Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open was notable once more by her continued absence.
Anyway, the Europeans haven’t been doing too badly without Hull, fighting back from a disastrous 4-0 drubbing in the foursomes to level going into Sunday’s singles. But it is hard to imagine that the European cause has not been hurt by the strange behaviour of the woman who everyone thought would be a strong on-course leader.
The home side showed real character to come back from that opening-morning record thrashing, and have slowly pegged the visitors back, taking the final fourballs on Saturday 3-1 to mean we are all-square going into Sunday’s singles.
Hull got on the board with a 4&3 with with Leona Maguire over Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing to set up a fine afternoon for the Europeans.
Many may feel the US chance has gone along with the momentum, but this tournament has more than a few surprises left up its sleeves.
Main image: Stuart Franklin