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Azahara Muñoz, the talisman for Europe

Muñoz (centre) celebrating the win with the European team.
Muñoz (centre) celebrating the win with the European team. / REUTERS
  • The golfer from Malaga took part in her fourth Solheim with the European team, who beat their American rivals in a nail-biting finish

Veteran Norwegian player Suzann Pettersen scored Europe's decisive point over the USA (14.5 to 13.5) at the Solheim Cup, which has just taken place at Gleneagles, Scotland, and Malaga golfer Azahara Muñoz played a crucial role in the European team's success. She missed last year, but did take part in 2011 and 2013, when Europe also won, and in 2015 when the USA took the title.

This latest success has marked the end of a great year for Muñoz, who is from San Pedro Alcántara. She has had a very good season with wins on several tournaments on the LPGA circuit which made her the third best European female player in the world and enabled her to classify for the Solheim Cup.

Playing on the course designed by Jack Nicklaus, the weather was not good on the first two days but improved on the third, which began with the two teams being equal 8-8. Catriona Matthew's European players took the trophy, after six triumphs and one draw.

There had been doubts about the inclusion of Pettersen, who is 38 and 635th in the world, in the European team, as she has hardly played in the most recent tournaments, but she became the star of an edition which returned the Cup to Europe for the sixth time.

She was ruthless in the way she bettered the American team which already had the trophy in its sights, because with two games to go they were ahead by 13.5 to 11.5. However, everything then changed. First, Britain's Bronte Law beat America's Ally McDonald at the 16th hole, giving the European team an advantage, then Pettersen remained equal with Marina Alex at the 17th. And then came the European victory: Law beat McDonald at the 17th, giving her a two-hole advantage and making it unnecessary to play the 18th, and at the last hole Petterson created magic with her third stroke, leaving the ball just over a metre and a half from the flag.

Alex responded well, but her ball ended two and a half metres from the hole. The Cup was to be decided in two strokes; Petterson remained calm and focused but Alex succumbed to the pressure, to the joy of the European team and the fans who had been holding their breath with excitement.