Europe’s golfers produced a series of stirring results in the second round of the Andersen Consulting Match Play - the first World Golf Championship event - at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Patrik Sjoland, the star of the show on a disappointing opening day for the European Tour contingent, again delivered a stunning performance when he recovered from three down with seven to play in the second round to beat Carlos Franco of Paraguay on the final green.
Jose Maria Olazabal, despite complaining about his indifferent driving, managed to summon up a courageous effort to edge out Michael Bradley, the first round conqueror of Masters and Open champion Mark O’Meara.
Bernhard Langer was six under par in dismissing Vijay Singh 2 and 1 while Argentinian Eduardo Romero, a European Tour regular, conjured a comeback similar to Sjoland’s to knock out former World No1 Greg Norman at the third extra hole.
Only Thomas Bjorn was unable to maintain his excellent form of the previous day when he went down 2 and 1 to Andrew Magee but of the last 16, a quarter of them ply their trade on the European circuit.
Now the quest for the 859158 euro top prize hots up with two two series of games which will determine the semi-finalists in the 4,295,796 euro tournament.
Langer takes on American Ryder Cup player Jeff Maggert, Olazabal faces Steve Jones, the former US Open champion, Sjoland clashes with John Huston and Romero faces a tough task against Phil Mickelson.
The last green victory of Sjoland’s was especially sweet for the Swede, who almost died in a car crash seven years ago. He birdied four of the last seven holes and admitted: "I feel great. I can’t believe it. I knew I would have to play the best golf ever over the last seven holes and I did that."
Sjoland eventually closed out a superb victory by sending a six iron to less than a foot of the final hole for a conceded birdie three.
Langer, playing his first match play event since the Ryder Cup in 1997, was six under par in taking care of Singh 2 and 1. He said: "I drove the ball really well and hit the ball fairly close. I wasn’t happy with my putting yesterday but the putter was pretty hot today."
Olazabal continued to struggle with his driver against Bradley but insisted: "It was the same old story with the driver. The thing is, I know I can do it on the range but when I get onto the course the old habits return.
"The positive thing I take out of it is that I hung in there, but realistically I know I can’t keep playing like this and winning."