Friday, 19 March 2010
The Vivendi Trophy with Severiano Ballesteros - Round Two  (Getty Images)
The Vivendi Trophy with Severiano Ballesteros - Round Two (Getty Images)


Great Britain & Ireland hold a 6-4 lead over Continental Europe going into the weekend after taking the second day fourball matches 3-2 at The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros.

Paul McGinley's side remain on course for a fifth successive victory at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche although for the second day running Thomas Björn’s Continental Europe side fought back strongly to stay in contention.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño produced a superb tee shot at the par three last to claim what might be a vital point in the final match as he and Robert Karlsson beat Robert Rock and Steve Webster 1 up.

“I hit a beautiful five iron,” the Spaniard said of his approach at the 18th. “I knew I needed to hit it on the green. I hit exactly the shot I tried to, it was absolutely perfect.

“That first putt was slippery. I've never been so nervous in my life. People don't understand, playing on a team and playing on your own, all of the people is just behind, just try and hole it for you - that's probably the most nervous I've ever been, but it was fantastic. I loved it.”

His par was enough as both his English opponents found the sand and failed to get up-and-down.

Simon Dyson and Oliver Wilson had their second win - and fourth in five games since first being paired two years ago - when they beat Henrik Stenson and Alvaro Quiros 2 and 1.

It was brilliant stuff from all four players. A birdie two on the last would have given the English pair a 12 under par 59 and their opponents were nine under when it finished.

On Wednesday morning Dyson was even a doubt for the match after contracting food poisoning, but he has been one of the stars of the show so far.

"I was on death's door," said the Yorkshire player, who had just a slice of toast all day after being advised to stay in bed.

"I was not 100 per cent yesterday, but today was good and we are gelling fantastically well. Paul asked who was my ideal partner and I said Ollie straightaway."

Chris Wood and Anthony Wall are also unbeaten, this time overcoming Miguel Angel Jiménez and Søren Kjeldsen 3 and 2.

That lacked the fireworks of their first day victory over Stenson and Robert Karlsson, but Wall sealed the win with a long bunker shot Nick Dougherty described as "unbelievable."

By then Dougherty and Ross Fisher had hit back from their first day defeat to beat Søren Hansen and Peter Hanson 3 and 2.

That match was closed out in style as well when Fisher curled in a 25 footer for an eagle on the 541 yard 16th to make them nine under.

Dougherty commented: "I've not played very well so far, but Ross played some great stuff today and I chipped in here and there."

That was literally the case on the short 12th, an important shot from just off the green that took them two up.

Continental captain Björn had kept Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari together and that paid off when their second victory came by a 3 and 1 margin against Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.

What might be a Ryder Cup partnership next October - they certainly hope so - were behind from the moment McDowell missed from eight feet at the first and Italian Molinari holed from seven.

Still one down after ten the Northern Ireland duo then almost criminally bogeyed the next two holes - there were only three others all day.

In terms of points at stake the contest is not yet at the halfway stage. Like the Ryder Cup 28 are available in all. Saturday sees four greensomes and four foursomes and Sunday brings ten singles.

Björn was remaining upbeat despite the two point deficit.

“I feel encouraged by the signs I saw out there today,” he said. “There was a couple of the guys that didn't play so well the first day that really picked themselves up today and didn't get a point.

“Henrik played really well and didn't get a point. They just got up against it, and that's what happens sometimes in these matches - Simon Dyson is on a big roll at the moment, and that's just the way it is.”

McGinley still believes Great Britain & Ireland have to play "unbelievably well" over the weekend if they are to win for a fifth time in a row.

"It's quite obvious - just look at the quality of their team and how far down the Order of Merit they had to go compared to us," he said.

"They have four current Ryder Cup players (compared to two) and we're up against it, but that doesn't mean we can't win.

“We are absolutely delighted, really delighted. We are up against it - we know that.  We know we have to play great, and we did it again today. To win again today was great, to be over 3-2 up, 6-4 overall - as a footballer would say, we are over the moon.”

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