European captain Alison Nicholas calls Solheim win 'proudest moment'

Alison Nicholas (centre) celebrates her team's 15-13 victory

Nicholas played in six Solheim Cups before captaining Europe this year

Europe's Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas has said her team's dramatic 15-13 win over the United States is her "proudest moment ever".

On a gripping final day at Killeen Castle in Ireland, a late surge from the home side saw them regain the trophy for the first time since 2003.

"They are all champions," declared 49-year-old Gibraltarian Nicholas.

"The players had such grit and I thank every one of them. I can hardly believe it; it is amazing, a huge team effort."

Nicholas added: "My team played with such heart and passion. The rookies were fantastic and the experienced players have done so well. They are all champions.

"This is my proudest moment ever."

The outcome of the three-day event came down to Sunday's final three singles matches, all of which swung in Europe's favour.

SOLHEIM CUP RESULTS

  • 1990: US 11½-4½ Europe
  • 1992: Europe 11½-6½ US
  • 1994: US 13-7 Europe
  • 1996: Europe 11-17 US
  • 1998: US 16-12 Europe
  • 2000: Europe 14½-11½ US
  • 2002: US 15½-12½ Europe
  • 2003: Europe 17½-10½ US
  • 2005: US 15½-12½ Europe
  • 2007: Europe 12-16 US
  • 2009: US 16-12 Europe
  • 2011: Europe 15-13 US

Nicholas's team had led 10-8 and 11-9, but were pegged back by the US and at one point trailed 12½-11½ on a rainy and windy day that saw play suspended three times because of the threat of lightning.

Norwegian world number two Suzann Pettersen had started the final half hour of drama when she fought back from one down with three to play to beat Michelle Wie by one hole, while in the penultimate match Caroline Hedwall, who was two down with two to play against Ryann O'Toole, won the last two holes for a vital half point.

Spaniard Azahara Munoz's one-hole win over Angela Stanford then clinched the vital point to give Europe only their fourth Solheim Cup victory in 12 contests.

An understandably disappointed US captain Rosie Jones said she was proud of her players despite the defeat.

"I'm disappointed to lose but I couldn't have asked for a better experience, a better team or a better course," she said.

"They just played better than us in the last 35 minutes. They just stripped the Solheim Cup from us."

England's Laura Davies, 47, is the only European player to compete in all 12 Solheim Cups and capped her latest appearance with a half point from her singles encounter with fellow veteran Juli Inkster, 51.

Davies said: "This is the first time we have been dead and buried and come back to win.

"The other three wins were from the front. That makes this one by far the most exciting and the best."