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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Europe taste Solheim glory
The victorious European Solheim Cup team
Europe 17-10 USA

Europe's women golfers won the Solheim Cup for the third time with victory over the United States in Sweden on Sunday.

Scotland's Catriona Matthew holed the winning putt as Europe took an unassailable 14-8 lead in the eighth running of the bi-annual event.

Europe led 9-6 going into the final day's singles, needing five points from the 12 matches to win back the Cup for the first time since 2000.

And they wrapped up the victory after an emphatic early charge with five matches still out on the course.

I was so nervous coming down that hole knowing the whole tournament rested on me
Europe's Catriona Matthew

American Juli Inkster won the first point with a 5&4 victory over Sweden's Carin Koch.

But Scotland's Janice Moodie, Sweden's Sophie Gustafson, Denmark's Iben Tinning and Sweden's Annika Sorenstam laid the groundwork for Matthew's glory.

"It feels unbelievable. I was so nervous coming down that hole knowing the whole tournament rested on me," said Matthew, who beat Rosie Jones 3&1.

Earlier, Moodie beat Kelli Kuehne 3&2, Gustafson won 5&4 against Heather Bowie, Tinning beat Wendy Ward 2&1 and Sorenstam won 3&2 over Angela Stanford.

Catrin Nilsmark [European captain] has been inspirational all week
Annika Sorenstam

World number one Sorenstam said: "It was important to get the momentum going early and we did that.

"Catrin Nilsmark [European captain] has been inspirational all week. She's been struggling with a sore back, but she's just been magnificent."

America's Michele Redman beat Spain's Ana-Belen Sanchez, while the matches left on the course were conceded.

Europe had led 4-3 after Friday's play, winning 3 points in the morning's foursomes before the USA hit back in the fourballs.

On Saturday morning, Nilsmark left out England's Laura Davies for the first session since the Cup began in 1990.

And her decision was vindicated when the home side romped into a three-point lead at 7-4.

In the fourballs, the USA won two matches and Europe won two, with Sorenstam and 22-year-old Suzann Petterson snatching an unlikely win on the last green for a three-point overnight lead.

The USA won 15-12 in Interlachen, Minnesota last year after trailing 9-7 going into the singles to take their record to 5-2.

Europe won at Dalmahoy in Scotland in 1992 and at Loch Lomond three years ago.

This year's event was staged in back-to-back years to avoid clashing with the men's Ryder Cup, which was switched to even-numbered years after the postponement caused by the 11 September atrocities.

BBC Five Live's Iain Carter
"Nilsmark's decision to pack the top order with form players was vindicated"

Scotland's Janice Moodie
"It's been a great weekend all round"

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