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Europe rallies for lead at Solheim Cup

EDINA, Minn., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Annika Sorenstam teamed with fellow Swede Carin Koch to rout Beth Daniel and Wendy Ward Saturday, 4 & 3, and key an afternoon sweep that gave Europe a 9-7 lead going into Sunday's singles matches in the Solheim Cup.

The Americans won three of the morning foursomes matches and had a two-point lead going into the four fourball matches in the afternoon. But with American captain Patty Sheehan resting some of her star players, Europe stormed from behind.

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The top-ranked woman in golf, Sorenstam improved to 3-1 this week and she was not even the best player in her pairing.

With trademark pigtails hanging out of her cap, Koch made four key birdie putts, winning three holes and halving another as the Swedish pair rebounded from a two-hole deficit.

"Very nice thing I have going with my putter right now," said Koch, who has one win in eight years on the LPGA Tour.

Koch has been the best player on either team this week, winning all four of her matches and improving to 7-0 in two Solheim Cup appearances.

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"I am pretty pumped up," said Koch. "I have had a great partner this week and been lucky with that. And I am just really excited for tomorrow, and I will try to keep that record going."

The Europeans, who reclaimed the title two years ago in Scotland and never have won on American soil, need five points in the 12 singles matches to retain the Cup.

Maria Hjorth and Iben Tinning earned Europe's second point in the afternoon with a 2-up victory over Pat Hurst and Kelli Kuehne. The Europeans -- who never trailed -- birdied the 15th hole to take the lead and the 18th to seal the win.

Karine Icher and Raquel Carriedo then held on for a 1-up victory over Rosie Jones and Cristie Kerr. They also never trailed, eventually clinching the win when Icher halved the 18th hole with a birdie.

Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson finished the sweep with a 1-up victory over Kelly Robbins and Emilee Klein. The Americans had a 2-up lead through seven holes, but the Europeans won three straight holes on the back nine.

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After a decisive, 4 & 3 win win by Sorenstam and Koch over Chrisie Kerr and Michele Redman in the morning matches, the United States won the other three.

Emilie Klein and Wendy Ward defeated Iaben Tinning and Mhari McKay, 3 & 2; Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster won over Laura Davies and Paula Marti, 2 & 1; and Laura Diaz and Kelly Robbins defeated Helen Alfredsson and Suzann Pettersen, 3 & 1.

Mallon, Diaz and Inkster all were kept out of the afternoon matches by Sheehan.

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