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USA beat Europe for second straight Solheim Cup crown

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Team USA walk arm and arm up the 18th fairway after beating Team Europe in the Solheim Cup on August 20, 2017

Team USA walk arm and arm up the 18th fairway after beating Team Europe in the Solheim Cup on August 20, 2017 (AFP Photo/Harry How)

Los Angeles (AFP) - The United States won the Solheim Cup on Sunday, thwarting Europe's comeback bid to triumph 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 in the women's match-play showdown.

The Americans took a commanding five-point lead into the day's 12 singles matches at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.

The scoreboard showed the 14 1/2 points needed for an outright victory when Lizette Salas sank a par putt at the 18th for a 1-up win over Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England.

"My hands are still shaking just thinking about it," said Salas, who was draped in a US flag on the green in a low-key celebration.

Indeed the moment was little more than a formality, with the Americans already assured of the win thanks to the number of matches on course in which they were leading.

They had been hurtling toward victory ever since Lexi Thompson's remarkable rally to halve the opening singles match with Sweden's Anna Nordqvist.

With captain Annika Sorenstam's Europe needing the biggest final-day comeback in Solheim Cup history to snatch the prize, Nordqvist set an early tone, winning the first four holes as Thompson struggled.

But the American came alive on the back nine with a gutsy display that included holing out for an eagle at the 11th and an eagle at 15 to square the match.

Thompson, who was six-under on the back nine, won the 16th with a birdie to take a 1-up lead that she took to 18 after both players bogeyed the par-three 17th.

The world number two was on the green in two at the last when Nordqvist fired her approach to within two feet. Thompson conceded the birdie putt, and when she couldn't get her own long attempt to drop the match ended halved.

"It was probably fitting that they both got half a point, they both played amazing," US captain Juli Inkster said.

The United States continued to edge closer to their goal as veteran Cristie Kerr closed out a 2 & 1 victory over England's Mel Reid and Paula Creamer defeated Georgia Hall 1 up.

Germany's Caroline Masson helped stem the tide with a 4 & 2 win over Michelle Wie.

And Scottish veteran Catriona Matthew, pressed into playing duty only when Suzann Pettersen pulled out late with an injury, rallied from 3 down through 11 holes to beat Stacy Lewis 1 up.

But when 18-year-old Angel Yin halved her match with France's Karine Icher, with Salas and Gerina Piller assured of at least halving theirs, the Americans were home and dry.

"We just got outplayed, there's no doubt about it," said Sorenstam, adding she was proud of her players' determination in the face of adversity.

"They were out there fighting for every single point," she said after her players grabbed six of the 12 points on offer on the final day.

- Fourball dominance decisive -

The United States had taken control of the tournament with dominant performances in the fourball matches on Friday and Saturday -- winning seven of eight points on offer in that format.

Their whitewash in the Friday fourballs erased Europe's narrow lead from the opening foursomes session and the visitors wouldn't get in front again.

Inkster joined Judy Rankin as the only women to captain back-to-back winning US Solheim Cup teams.

"I'm just proud of my team," she said after the 10th American victory in 15 editions since the matches began in 1990. "I really haven't been nervous all week, but I was a little nervous today.

"It's just an honor to captain this team, and I'm really honored to captain these girls."