Only a few players were undefeated at the 2023 Solheim Cup, one of whom was CPKC Women's Open winner Megan Khang. The now three-time Solheim Cupper went 3-0-1 in her four matches over the weekend at Finca Cortesin, earning 3.5 critical points for the U.S. team, a career-best for the LPGA Tour veteran.
Khang kicked off the week in Andalucia, Spain, playing alongside Lexi Thompson in the first foursomes session on Friday morning. The pair were up against the Swedish rookie duo of Linn Grant and Maja Stark, and the Americans took the lead on the first hole and never looked back, handily winning 2 and 1 over the Europeans.
Captain Stacy Lewis put Khang right back out for the afternoon fourball, pairing her up with Solheim Cup rookie Rose Zhang to face off with Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom. The U.S. duo went 1 up early and never trailed until Sagstrom flipped the match with a birdie on the par-4 14th hole. Khang and Zhang parred the next to tie things back up and tied the final three holes at Finca Cortesin to ground out a half point, one of only two matches in which the U.S. team would earn points during that session.
Saturday morning saw Khang and Thompson team up again and challenge a formidable European partnership of Anna Nordqvist and Leona Maguire. After tying the first hole, the Euros went 1 up with a birdie on the second, but the Americans squared the match with a par on No. 4. A birdie on five and a birdie on seven then put Nordqvist and Maguire 2 up with 11 holes to play.
Two players just refuse to quit, Khang and Thompson won three straight holes on 9, 10 and 11 to flip the match, now 1 up with seven holes to go. The Europeans birdied 15 to square things up, but an American par on 17 put the U.S. 1 up with one to play. Both sides ultimately parred 18, giving Khang and Thompson another foursomes victory.
"Lexi and I are joking in the 18th fairway like, 'Man, we should do five matches this week. Let's do it,'" said Khang on Saturday after the win. "This week is just purely adrenaline. If you feel like you're tired, you forget about it because the crowd's right there picking you up. You have your partner looking at you going, 'Let's go.' Lexi is literally like, 'Come on, we can do it.' I'm like, I can do it. My little legs can keep up."
And Khang kept up that momentum on Sunday morning when Lewis decided to send her out in the first singles match of the final day, hoping that the 25-year-old Solheim Cup veteran would put a point on the board early and bring some energy to the American team. "It's a huge honor to tee off first to lead the way for the girls, and we knew we had to come out swinging and put some red on the board," said Khang. "Captain said get some red and put some red on the board early."
Khang did precisely that in another hard-fought battle with Grant. The American took the lead with a birdie on the drivable, par-4 1st hole and never let the Swede up for air, oscillating between 2 up and 1 up throughout the entire match, making birdie on the par-5 18th hole to win 1 up and give the U.S. team their first point of Sunday singles. Having played the rookie earlier in the week, the veteran knew what to expect from the five-time LET winner and was "super proud" of herself for rising to the occasion of being first off on a Solheim Cup Sunday.
"When the draw came out and I had Linn first off, you know Linn was going to bring it, and I knew I had to do the exact same and hopefully come out on top. I took it all the way to 18 and she definitely made me work for it," Khang said. "Linn has the distance and she's a great ball striker, so it was going to be a fun match knowing the matchup.
"But definitely 18, she had honors and smacked it down the fairway, and I was like, 'I think she's going to get home in two here,' and I told Jack, 'She'll need an eagle to win the hole' and thankfully I hit a nice chip shot up myself and made the birdie putt. So very happy to come out on top."
Although the final result wound up a tie, ensuring that the Europeans would retain the Solheim Cup and keep it in Europe for the third consecutive time, the Americans aren't hanging their heads and don't have any reason. Captain Lewis continually reminded the U.S. team on Sunday evening that while they aren't taking the Cup back home to the States, that doesn't mean they lost in any way. They just tied.
And though a win might've been nice, the most important thing to come out of this week in Spain may not have been a Solheim Cup victory. Instead, it was the unification of the American squad and the progress that was made under a new captain with a new system using revolutionary resources like KPMG Performance Insights that will have long-lasting reverberations in many Solheim Cups to come, especially next year's at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
"I made them all cry, which that was not my intent. I just told them how proud I was of them and, I don't want to sound like a sore loser, but it was a tie," said Lewis. "I think that's a lot for this team to build off of, especially coming over here, coming into this environment with five rookies, a very young and inexperienced team. Fortunately, we only have to wait another year to go get this thing back.
"For me, the whole week in general feels like a win. Just where we were coming out of Toledo to where this team is at now, it was a win, and that's all that matters. I think it's more about these girls, where they are mentally, how they felt about this. They were crying because it meant something to them, and that's all I was trying to achieve this week."
And for Khang, who made the most of her week in Spain and who has been a part of the two previous U.S. Solheim Cup teams, two squads that lost the Cup on both home and foreign soil, this week's tie has bigger implications for the future, ones that will last long after the sting of the 14-14 result at Finca Cortesin, ones that Khang knows will lead the U.S. to victory sooner rather than later.
"Honestly, I think each and every one of us contributed to this team room. It's been an unbelievable experience this week. I will say this being my third Solheim, even though unfortunately we (tied), it was still (one of the) best Solheim teams I've been on, from Stacy and the captains, the assistant captains, to each and every one of us out here just giving it our all.
"I think we all took what Stacy told us to heart, where we play hard, play to win, and most importantly have fun. We may not have gotten the Cup back, but we definitely had fun out there and really just enjoyed the moments and built each other up while doing so."