Europe trail 5.5-2.5 heading into the second day of the 15th Solheim Cup in Des Moines after suffering a first-ever session whitewash in the biennial event.
Thanks to a gutsy win from Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher, Annika Sorenstam’s side led 2.5-1.5 after the morning foursomes in Iowa before having no answer to a fourball blitz from the Americans.
Juli Inkster’s team, the holders after a one-point success in Germany two years ago, were never behind in the afternoon session as they won all four of the matches to the delight of the home fans to surge ahead.
Rookie Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas were the leading lights for the Americans, winning both their matches, as the visitors were left with work on their hands over the final two days.
They trail by the biggest opening-day deficit since suffering a 16-12 defeat at Muirfield Village in 1998, but Sorenstam still has belief in her players.
“It wasn’t the afternoon we had wished for, but the players fought very hard and the US team played very well,” said the former world No 1.
“We’re just going to forget about this day. It’s a marathon and we’re going to start out fresh tomorrow.
“The spirit is still there, if not stronger. You get a little fired up when you see an afternoon like this.
“We knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge. And I have fighters on the team. And I believe in them.”
Opposite number Inkster, who is aiming to make it back-to-back victories as captain, was delighted with her team’s work on day one but is certinly not counting any chickens just yet.
“We played amazing this afternoon,” she acknowledged, “but Annika will have the Europeans fired up, so we need to keep doing what we are doing.”
After falling behind when Matthew and Icher recovered from two down with six to play to win the final morning match, the Americans came out with all guns blazing in the afternoon.
The scoreboard soon became awash with red, led by Salas and Michelle Wie as they stormed to a 3&1 success in the top match over Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Madelene Sagstrom.
As had been the case in the morning, Kang holed just about every putt she looked at after Wie had got them off to the perfect start with a winning birdie at the first.
“We had a great chemistry out there and that made for a great team,” said Wie while 24-year-old Kang described her day as “absolutely wonderful”.
Salas teamed up equally effectively with another rookie, Angel Yin, in the afternoon as the pair hammered Carlota Ciganda and Emily Pedersen 6&5.
That equalled the second biggest fourball victory in the event, with Salas saying of her 18-year-old team-mate: “She did great today.”
By far the best golf in the afternoon came in the third match, where Germany’s Caroline Masson was approximately six-under-par on her own for 16 holes yet lost 3&2 in the company of Florentyna Parker.
That’s because they were hit by an eagle and eight birdies by Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome, who were an incredible eight-under for the first nine holes.
Europe’s fourball misery was completed when Charley Hull and Georgia Hall went down 2&1 to Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller in the final match of the day.
Earlier, the event had started in sensational fashion as Lexi Thompson hit the home side’s opening tee shot to 10 feet at the 306-yard first hole.
Cristie Kerr duly rolled in the putt for an eagle but, despite that, they only avoided defeat at the hands of English duo Hull and Mel Reid by winning the last two holes.
Thompson, with former Scottish Amateur champion Kevin McAlpine on her bag, holed a testing par putt at the 17th to keep the Americans in the match.
She then hit a superb approach to around 12 feet at the last and Kerr sent the home crowd wild as she rolled in the birdie putt.
“We made a huge par on 17, and sometimes all you need in this format is just a little bit of momentum,” said Kerr.
“And then we played a perfect hole on 18 to get the halve and it was very necessary.”
Behind them, Kang joined forces with Salas to win on the last against Ciganda and Masson.
“She did not play like a rookie; she played like a major champion,” said Salas of her young playing partner, who won the Women’s KPMG PGA Championship earlier in the year.
Similarly, Hall took to this event like a duck to water as the Englishwoman marked her debut with an equally impressive victory.
Hall and Swede Anna Nordqvist, two former Ladies British Amateur champions, never trailed in beating Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst 3&1 - the biggest margin of a keenly-contested session.
“I’m very happy to be her partner today, and she played great,” said Nordqvist, the highest-ranked player in the European team, of 21-year-old Hall.
Matthew and Icher then put the visitors in front as they recovered from being two down with just six to play to beat Lewis and Piller on the last hole.
Icher converted birdie opportunities set up by the Scot at both the 13th and 14th before Matthew produced a brilliant recovery from a bunker at the 17th to keep the Europeans in front after they’d also won the previous hole.
“If you look at the world rankings, Stacy and Gerina are well ahead of us,” said Matthew after recording a victory that saw her become the third most successful European player in the event. “They are great players and this is a great win for us.”
(European names first)
Mel Reid and Charley Hull halved with Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson
Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson lost to Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas one hole
Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall beat Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst 3&1
Karine Icher and Catriona Matthew beat Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller one hole
Madelene Sagstrom and Jodi Ewart Shadoff lost to Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang 3&1
Carlota Ciganda and Emily Pedersen lost to Angel Yin and Lizette Salas 6&5
Florentyna Parker and Caroline Masson lost to Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang 3&2
Charley Hull and Georgia Hall lost to Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller 2&1
Second-day foursomes draw
7.10am Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson v Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson
7.22am Mel Reid and Emily Pedersen v Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst
7.34am Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall v Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller
7.46am Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher v Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang