Nick Faldo's Great Britain and Ireland side took the honours after the second day of the Seve Trophy with a 3-2 fourballs success to tie up the match at 5-5 with Continental Europe going into Saturday's double session at The Heritage Golf and Spa Resort at Killenard, Ireland.
Trailing 2-3 overnight, the GB & I captain marshalled his troops to fine effect, with Bradley Dredge and Phillip Archer and Oliver Wilson and Simon Dyson both putting points on the board before ‘tail-gunners’ Justin Rose and Paul Casey snatched a last green victory.
Faldo’s opposite number, Seve Ballesteros, saw his fabulous Frenchman, Raphaël Jacquelin and Gregory Havret record their second thumping victory of the week while Austria’s Markus Brier and Mikko Ilonen of Finland maintained their 100 per cent records from two starts.
The match is now delicately poised going into the weekend and Faldo, especially, is revelling in his role as captain 12 months ahead of the greater responsibility of leading Europe into battle against the United States in The Ryder Cup.
Faldo sounded like an excited schoolboy awaiting his exam results as he raced around the beautiful green acres of The Heritage in his bright red golf cart.
“I’m enjoying myself. That’s the bottom line” beamed the GB & I skipper. “I’m really into this. It’s exciting for me. I am taking notes and I’ve made some observations which I think are going to be really beneficial for me and my team. I’m not going to tell you what they are, because I don’t want it getting to ‘you-know’who’ on the other side of the pond!”
One of Faldo’s biggest plusses has been the ‘getting to know you’ effect. He admitted he didn’t know Dredge and Archer at all until this week – and both players have responded to his exhortations by winning twice.
Ballesteros added; “Both teams are playing fantastic. For many it’s the first time they have competed in the Seve Trophy and they are giving a tremendous display out there. Everyone is playing well and, as Nick says, the quality has been tremendous. We are both really having a good time out there.”
Faldo had one drama to deal with before a shot was struck, when Scotland’s Marc Warren swung a five iron in his hotel room the night before and brought the glass chandelier crashing down on his head and body.
After medical help to staunch the blood and a couple of butterfly stitches in his abdomen, Warren pronounced himself fit to partner Colin Montomerie for the second day, this time against Jacquelin and Havret.
However, for the second day running, the Scots ran into a juggernaut, not from Sweden as in Day One, but from France. After a 5 and 3 win to follow their 4 and 3 success the previous day, there was no disguising the Gallic delight.
“I haven’t played team golf since 1999 and I missed the format” said Havret. “It’s been great fun and especially good to play well.”
Jacquelin chimed in: “That main thing is that we can play together and practice for the World Cup at the same time. We never say sorry to each other. Just play each shot and move on.”
Dredge and Archer claimed the first GB & I point with a 5 and 4 win over Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson of Sweden while Wilson and Dyson overcame Thomas Björn and Søren Hansen of Denmark by 3 and 2 to add another point to the tally.
Ilonen and Brier repelled a spirited fightback by Nick Dougherty and Graeme Storm – at one time the English pair were four down – to win on the final green.
Eventually, the match position depended on the final game on the course, and on this occasion it was Casey who stepped up to the plate, sinking a nasty little five footer on the 18th for a one hole victory with Rose over Miguel Angel JIménez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño.
Casey commented: “I don’t think either of us wanted to go two days without a point on the board. We are the highest on the world ranking here and are two guys who should be making points. I am glad we corrected that omission today.
“We have a strong team and being behind after Thursday has spurred us on and kicked the guys into gear. I look forward to tomorrow. I think we are going to add a lot more points to that board.”
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