Continental Europe answered the call of captain Seve Ballesteros and forced themselves back into contention on the third day of The Seve Trophy. The Spaniard demanded that his team eat into holders Great Britain and Ireland’s three point lead and they did just that, winning the morning greensomes 2 ½ - 1 ½ to reduce Colin Montgomerie’s side’s overall lead to 8-6 going into the four afternoon foursomes.
First point on the board came from Swede’s Niclas Fasth and Fredrik Jacobson, who once again showed how much they enjoyed each other’s company with a splendid 5 and 4 victory over Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie.
Ironically, the Swedish duo trailed in the early stages of the contest but nudged ahead for the first time at the seventh and gradually pulled away on the inward half, closing the match out with a superb run of three birdies in a row from the 12th.
The Continental European cause was boosted even further moments later by another win for the rampant pairing of Alex Cejka and Raphaël Jacquelin. The German/French combination had won both their matches to date, as had their opponents in the third session, Englishmen Paul Casey and Brian Davis.
Something had to give and it proved to be the resolve of the Great Britain and Ireland duo as Cejka and Jacquelin were never behind after winning the third with a birdie four and they eventually posted a 3 and 2 victory to bring the overall match score to 6 ½ - 5 ½.
Things looked even bleaker for the holders when, in the third match, Montgomerie and Justin Rose stood three down with three to play against Thomas Björn and José Maria Olazábal, the hosts rightly believing that they were about to level to contest overall.
But they had reckoned without the steely resolve of the Great Britain and Ireland captain and his young partner who bravely birdied the final three holes to win each one and grasp a vital half point for their side’s cause, moving the match score to 7-6.
Great Britain and Ireland’s only full point of the morning session came in the bottom match from Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood who eventually overcame the dogged resistance of Ballesteros and his fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia 2 and 1, Westwood joining Cejka and Jacquelin as the only player to have won three matches out of three so far.
It appeared the winning margin would be even more emphatic when the English duo took the opening three holes and indeed were four up with four to play. But Ballesteros and Garcia refused to give up. The Spanish duo took the 15th and 16th holes with birdies to keep the match alive but could do nothing as Poulter and Westwood birdied the 17th to win the match 3 and 1.