Seve Ballesteros searched deep in his memory banks to locate the gifts which made him one of the world’s greatest golfers and produced some magical moments to set alight the second Seve Trophy at Druids Glen, Co Wicklow, in Ireland.
But even the maestro was unable to prevent his Continental Europe team trailing Great Britain and Ireland 10-6 after a miserable, murky, day which was enlivened by his own heroics in the company of his old sparring partner, José Maria Olazábal.
Now the GB & I team, captained by Colin Montgomerie, require just three and a half points from the ten singles to win the trophy for the first time. Montgomerie’s side, 5-3 ahead after the first day, captured the morning fourballs 3-1 then shared the foursomes 2-2 to establish a healthy, but far from invincible, lead.
The incomparable pairing of Ballesteros and Olazábal showed that there is life after the Ryder Cup. Facing the formidable Irish pair of Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington, the Spaniards played the last eight holes in six under par to convert a potential defeat into a 2 and 1 victory.
Ballesteros chipped in from a bunker at the 17th to complete the victory and his younger partner sank to his knees in mock worship at the feet of the master. The European skipper said: “From all the matches we have played together, probably this was the best of all time. I think it was fantastic to shoot six under on the last eight holes.”
Despite that wonderful display of golf in incessant rain and a swirling wind, Continental Europe found themselves behind the eight ball, as GB & I ground out victory after victory to forge an impressive lead.
Montgomerie admitted: “I think we would have taken 10-6 at the start of the week. Two days of 5-3 is very satisfying. We know that the European team can beat our team on any given day but I think this just proves what a wonderful competition this is. Every one of my team has got a point and I would like to thank McGinley and Harrington particularly. They have done brilliantly to get three points out of four.”
Montgomerie and Ballesteros now meet in the top singles tie, with the GB & I captain seeking to avenge a 2 and 1 defeat from two years ago. He added; “I am certainly taking it seriously. It was nice to see Seve playing in his own tournament like that. Quite superb.”