The inaugural Eurobet Seve Ballesteros Trophy remains evenly balanced with Continental Europe and Great Britain & Ireland locked together at 6-6 following the second day at Sunningdale Golf Club.
Torrential rain restricted play and the match will be concluded on the Old Course on Sunday with four greensomes followed by ten singles.
The players from both teams provided golf of the highest calibre in the difficult conditions with Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Anglel Jimenez eight under par for the 13 holes they required to beat Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam in the top match in the fourballs.
Olazabal, twice Masters champion, was out in 29 with six birdies in a flawless performance and Jimenez almost emulated his Spanish compatriot in going to the turn in 30. Olazabal described his approach to the second as “one of the best irons I ever hit in my life. It was 207 yards and the wind was right to left and I hit a wonderful cut one iron really high. It was a lovely shot.”
Montgomerie and Woosnam were both out in 33, and five down, and the Spanish increased their advantage at the 11th where Olazabal struck a wedge to ten feet from where he holed.
Montgomerie, captain of the Great Britain & Ireland team, said: “Woosie and I didn’t have a prayer. It wasn’t just Ollie’s one iron at the second – it was the putting. They never looked like missing. It was fun to watch, I have to say that, if you need a putting lesson then Ollie’s your man! I’m just pleased that he’s on our team every second year in the Ryder Cup!”
Olazabal said: “It was a wonderful match. The start was very good – five under after five holes and that made things very difficult for Monty and Woosie. They didn’t play all that bad. It’s just that we played very well. It was a good day on the greens. The first day this season I’ve putted well.
“I’m pleased because I knew we had to play really well to beat Woosie and Monty. I have been working hard on my putting the last three or four weeks. I have been working harder on my putting than my driver which is very strange. I knew what the problem was but I couldn’t fix it. The ball was going left and the follow through was not a proper one. On Wednesday John Jacobs and I spent some time on the practice green and he said the face was shut and that was causing the problem.
“The great thing about playing any tournament in Great Britain you are guaranteed the crowds. You love this game and from the Continent we learn to appreciate it. That’s the great beauty of the game in this country.
“I think this match is going to be very important in the future which might help the players who might play in the Ryder Cup. When the Ryder Cup started it was just a match between friends. You just give this tournament a few more years to develop, with the proper crowds and atmosphere and some tight matches – and it will become a very serious event.”
Paul Lawrie, the Open champion, and Gary Orr struck back for Great Britain & Ireland with a hard-fought win against Robert Karlsson and Jarmo Sandelin in a match that went to the last hole.
Lawrie and Orr were the dominate partnership on the outward half. Both took 32 shots to the turn by which time they were three up. Karlsson and Sandelin launched their counter-attack with winning birdies at the 11th and kept the match alive by winning the 17th. Lawrie, however, matched Karlsson’s par four at the 18th to give Great Britain & Ireland victory by one hole.
Orr said: “It was a gruelling day, very tough going. We played really well and Paul hit a quality shot at the 18th to give us the match. It’s great to get my first point in the match – now we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Great Britain & Ireland moved 6-5 when Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood beat Alex Cejka and Jean van de Velde 2 and 1, but moments later with Thomas Bjorn and Sergio Garica overcoming John Bickerton and Phillip Price on the 18th green.
Westwood said: "That was a lond hard day. The hardest part was staying warm and keeping our concentration. But I chipped in at the first and Darren and I were six under after six. It's hard for your opponent to come back from that."