They may have to dig out the crampons and breathing apparatus at this rate. Team Europe have one heck of a mountain to climb in the Solheim Cup, after all.

With 12 singles matches bringing this biennial bout to a close on Sunday, the USA require just 3 ½ points to retain the decorative chunk of Waterford crystal. Juli Inkster’s side opened up a 10 ½ - 5 ½ lead on the second day of foursomes and fourballs and just about left the Europeans requiring snookers. They’ll now have to produce the biggest comeback in the event’s history.

Miracles do happen in these titanic team tussles, of course. The one at Medinah in the Ryder Cup of 2012 remains seared on the minds. Sorenstam and her troops will need to say some prayers to those golfing gods if they are to conjure an equally flabbergasting feat.

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The visitors played some terrific stuff on a super Saturday. Unfortunately for them, the US were even better. They were relentless too. Catriona Matthew and her 21-year-old partner Georgia Hall produced some cracking shots against Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson in the fourballs but sometimes in this game, it’s just not your day. Even when Matthew and Hall both birdied the par-5 15th, Kerr dunted one out of the sand trap for an eagle to take the hole as they eventually won 4&2.

The overall scoreline may not make for pleasant reading for those of a European persuasion but the spectacle of two teams going at it hammer and tongs during day two made for quite compelling viewing. At times, the level of golf on show was simply sensational. The flagsticks appeared to be visibly traumatised by the regular assaults as approach shots were arrowed in to close quarters in rampant abundance, putts were drained from distance and chips, pitches and bunker shots dropped in the holes.

In the opening fourballs match, Brittany Lincicome birdied her first seven holes with a sizzling run which just about left scorch marks on the greens. “The hole felt like the size of Texas,” she said after a quite rousing run. Her playing partner, Brittany Lang, joined in the shimmering show by holing her second shot on the seventh for an eagle two. That gave the US pairing a three hole advantage over the shell-shocked European pairing of Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid. The fact they recovered and took the match to the 18th in a two hole defeat spoke volumes for Ciganda and Reid’s never-say-die spirit. “I think we were 10-under in the fourball but they just played phenomenal golf,” conceded Reid.

Anna Nordqvist and Jodi Ewart Shadoff put some blue on the board with a fine 4&2 win over Lizette Salas and Angel Yin but the US won the afternoon session 3-1. It’s a long way back and Europe will need perform the kind of salvage operation that raised the Mary Rose.

The visitors had been playing catch up since that damaging 4-0 rout by the US in Friday’s fourballs. It was a savage dunt to morale but Sorenstam had remained defiant in the face of the early adversity. “I won tournaments after 72 holes, not after 27,” said the Swede.

The Europeans were looking to come out with all guns blazing on day two but the very first shot of the very first match provided a fairly ominous sign for them. The 306-yard opening hole at Des Moines can offer up some profitable gains. Thompson illustrated that during Friday’s play when she plonked her tee-shot to within nine-feet of the flag and her playing partner, Kerr, trundled in the putt for a spectacular eagle two.

It wasn’t quite where eagles dare for Team Europe’s Ewart Shadoff, though. More a case of where the hell is that? Playing alongside Caroline Masson in the tie with the US twosome of Thompson and Kerr, Ewart Shadoff blocked her drive so far right it just about ended up in the neighbouring state of Wisconsin. In fact, it bounced and bobbled all the way into a creek. Ewart Shadoff did redeem herself when she holed a raking putt of some 30-feet to grab an unlikely par on the green but Thompson dinked in her birdie putt and the US pairing were on their way to a convincing 5&3 win.

At 39, Kerr is another member of the older guard. This is the two-time Major champion’s ninth Solheim Cup appearance and her morning success yesterday pushed her into the record books. She became the USA’s all-time leading points scorer with 19, overtaking the current team captain Juli Inkster’s haul of 18 ½ . Kerr’s tally would be bolstered by another point in the afternoon. In this ultimate team contest, though, she isn’t too bothered about individual honours. “I don't really care about that,” she said. “Honestly, I never thought about that once. It’s just something to talk about. I just want to help our team win. That’s all that matters.”

Europe’s team matters, meanwhile, were not helped by a niggling injury to Charley Hull as she was forced to sit on the sidelines for both sessions having aggravated a long-standing wrist problem. She will play the final day singles, however.

The ever dependable Matthew, meanwhile, continued to revel in the cut-and-thrust.

With a combined age of 85, you could say the Scottish veteran and Karine Icher of France have forged something of an Auld Alliance. Experience remains a valuable weapon in the Solheim Cup armoury. As Europe’s women tried to battle their way back from Friday’s fourballs whitewash, Matthew, 47, and Icher, 38, did their bit for the cause again in the second session of foursomes as they dove-tailed nicely in the format to make it two wins out of two as a pairing. “We are two of the older ones, we have similar personalities and I think it just works,” said Matthew as she offered up a simple explanation for the effectiveness of a duo who combined to edge out the American double act of Michelle Wie and Danielle Kang by a 2&1 margin.

Having enjoyed a fourballs triumph together during Friday’s red, white and blue surge, the US combination of Wie and new recruit Kang were as bubbly as the Moet & Chandon staff party. Matthew and Icher kept them flat, though, and a battling 2&1 win, aided by key birdies at the eighth and 10th, gave the Europeans a share of the session.

It didn’t eat into the USA’s overall lead though and the hosts would gorge themselves in the afternoon’s birdie feast to extend that advantage. The final day’s tee-times have been brought forward by a couple of hours to avoid the threat of inclement weather. Team Europe will need to whip up a storm of their own if they want to rain on the USA victory parade.