England's golfers emulated the nation's rugby union side a year ago to the weekend by capturing the World Golf Championships - World Cup at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla from under the noses of host country, Spain. Paul Casey and Luke Donald ended a superb week by claiming the title by one stroke with a 31 under par total of 257.
On a glorious day in which 50 per cent of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup Team from Oakland Hills filled the first three places, England secured the first European win since the event came under the World Golf Championships umbrella in 2000.
Casey and Donald replicated their 64 from Friday’s foursomes to win the title with, remarkably , a superior score from the alternate shot format than the fourballs on Thursday and Saturday. The English pair were 16 under for foursomes and 15 under in fourballs.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jiménez pushed their playing partners England all the way but were undone with a bogey at the 16th when they were still in contention. The Spanish, egged on by a vocal but knowledgable crowd of 15,733 – taking the total to 40,0908 - finished with a 66 for a 30 under par total of 258.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who won the World Cup in 1997 under its previous format, finished third on 260 after a closing round of 65 with defending champions South Africa shooting 68 for fourth spot on 263 with two more European sides, The Netherlands and Austria, finishing tied fifth on 265.
It was a particularly satisfying week for Casey, who had been tied fifth, third and second in his three previous attempts in the WGC – World Cup. First place, with his close friend Donald, ensured he became the first player in the five year history of the event in its current format to pass the $1 million mark in prize money. Casey now has $1,220,000 to his name.
That eight under par 64 was the lowest score recorded on the final day and Casey said: "I am very, very happy with the week - fifth, third, second and now first. Luke is a fantastic partner and a fantastic friend. You know, I can't believe we actually shot a better score in the foursomes than we did in fourball.
"The greens are perfect and I tend to be a streaky putter and I was hot today" added Casey, who was responsible for seven of England's nine birdie putts.
Donald, whose arrow-like iron play set up the chances, commented: "Our games are very different but sometimes that has its benefits. I think we mix our strengths in our golf pretty well. I'm a pretty straight hitter who can hit a lot of greens and Paul is a powerful hitter who is very good on the greens. It just seem to work out very well."
Meanwhile Spain, who battled so hard to give their adoring fans a home victory, gave an admirable display but even with six birdies and a glorious eagle at the 13th to their name, they were finally out-foxed by the formidable English foursomes combination.
Garcia said: “Of course we are disappointed but you have to give a lot of credit to the English team. I think Paul and Luke played unbelievably today, to go out there on Sunday in the World Cup and shoot eight under in foursomes is a great effort.
“We tried as hard as we could but we didn’t get lucky. They played great, they putted great and they deserved the victory.”
Jiménez said: “There is not much more to add to that. We shot six under par but they shot better than us and in foursomes it’s not easy. All four guys played great golf but someone has to win and someone has to finish second. That’s the game.”
Ireland made a late run for glory but a bogey on the 17th halted their charge. McGinley was frustrated that the Irish luck ran out and admitted sadly: "I guess the golfing Gods weren't with us this week."