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  • Alistair Tait

Nothing Wrong With Honours Even

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

The only thing that spoiled the conclusion of the 18th Solheim Cup was the suggestion that somehow the 14-14 result wasn’t satisfying.

The match in Spain was all of that: a fair outcome after a colossal tussle between two evenly matched teams. The 14-14 score line was entirely correct, just as it was for the 1989 Ryder Cup. There’s nothing wrong with honours even in golf. Anyone who has came from a few holes down to halve a match, even in a bounce game against a mate, will attest to that.

So cue dismay when U.S. captain Stacy Lewis (pictured), after a discussion with LPGA Commissioner Mollie Samaan, suggested perhaps there should be some sort of tie breaker to determine a winner in future should the match finish all square after the singles.

“We were talking about when it is a tie, should it be a playoff, should it be a retain the cup,” Lewis said. “I don’t know. It obviously would be better TV. It would be a better experience for the fans, whether it was a team playoff or something like that. I think that would be pretty cool.
“But if you want to stick with the history of the event and history of what the men do as well, you probably stick with retaining the cup. I don’t know how I feel about that either way, to be honest.”

Not sure most golf fans agree with Lewis’s “pretty cool” line. I certainly don’t.

You can bet if the U.S. had gone into the match as trophy holders, and had overcome a 0-4 deficit in the opening session to draw 14-14 they would have been celebrating with as much gusto as the Europeans did when Carlota Ciganda got that 2&1 victory over Nelly Korda.

Zach Johnson and his U.S. team will party hearty in Rome this week if they struggle early and come back to finish all square with Europe to retain the cup. If that match also ends in a draw then so be it.

So much of sport is all about winning and losing anyway. Golf insists on sole winners in individual events, and that’s the way it should be. Imagine if Martin Slumbers had stood on the 18th green this year at Royal Liverpool to announce the champion “golfers” of the year after a four-way tie after 72 holes. Or the Masters chairman having to issue three green jackets? It would be ludicrous.

One of the things that make the Solheim Cup, Ryder Cup, Curtis Cup, Walker Cup, etc special is precisely the fact teams can finish level with each other. Besides, it doesn’t happen very often. This was the first drawn match in Solheim Cup history. There has only been two in the Ryder Cup, 1969 and 1989.

Can you imagine if there had been a playoff to settle the 1969 match after Jack Nicklaus had graciously conceded Tony Jacklin’s putt on Royal Birkdale's 18th green? That concession, one of the most gracious moments in all of golf/sport, would have been rendered totally redundant.

Let’s hope the discussion Lewis had with Samaan remains just that. There’s nothing wrong honours even.

#JustSaying: “If after playing anybody in any match, if you can't look the opponent in the eye and say well played, win lose or draw, then we've all been wasting our time.” Tony Jacklin

Photograph courtesy of the Ladies European Tour

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