Just six weeks Matilda Castren won the 2021 Gant Ladies Open in her native Finland to earn Ladies European Tour Membership, the 26-year-old LPGA Tour and Solheim Cup rookie drained a 5-foot birdie putt on 18 that officially retained the Solheim Cup for Team Europe.
Castren’s 1-up victory over American Lizette Salas brought her team to 14 points, the tally needed to keep the Solheim Cup on European soil.
“It's hard to put it into words right now. I think I'm still shaking,” said an emotional Castren. “I just knew I was looking at the board and I knew it was going to be an important putt, and I wanted to make it. Me and (caddie) Mikey (Patterson) read it and we read it perfectly and it went in. I'm just so happy right now, and I'm not sure what the final scores are, but I'm just… Yeah, a lot of emotions right now.”
Castren led for much of the match, but never by more than a 2-up margin. Salas put her approach at No. 17 to 4 feet, but the putt to win the hole and square the match grazed the right edge and rolled 3 feet past. She nailed the testy comebacker and watched Castren drain her own 3-footer to tie the hole and head to 18 with the Finn ahead by one. From there, Castren’s winning putt brought her European teammates streaming from the sidelines with cheers and hugs for their newest teammate and newly minted Solheim Cup champion.
“I think I focused a little more whenever there's pressure, and I just, oh, my God,” she said. “We read the putts really well, and I've been rolling the ball really good all week. I just figured, just trust it and trust the line and just make a good stroke, and they just went in.”