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

Great Britain & Ireland beat Continental Europe for the fifth successive time at The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros in Paris despite a rousing fightback by Thomas Björn’s side.

Rory McIlroy grabbed the scalp he had craved all week - the 20 year old defeated World Number Five Henrik Stenson on the final green.

And when fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell followed that with a 3 and 2 victory over last year's European Number One Robert Karlsson, back in action after nearly four months out with an eye problem, Paul McGinley's side had won with seven games still on the course.

It was just as well the necessary points were gained early, though, as Thomas Björn's men burst into life, enabling the final scoreline to be 16 1/2-11 1/2 for the third time in a row.

Continental Europe actually won the singles 6-4, but had been seven down entering them.

Most impressive of all on the day was Dane Anders Hansen, an incredible ten under par for the 12 holes it took him to defeat Nick Dougherty - three under himself - by a 7 and 6 margin that was the biggest in the event's history.

“I birdied ten or 12 holes and that was unbelievable,” said Hansen. “I just played great - it's an unbelievable run. I birdied one, two, and then parred three, birdied four and parred five and then birdied in from there.

“I just wanted to go out and just do the job today and just prove that those numbers are completely wrong; that we are much better than we have been showing so far. So it was great and it seems like the team is making great comebacks. It's a bit of a shame that we were so far behind, otherwise it could have been quite interesting.”

England's Chris Wood had the chance to become the first player to win all his five games, and might have done it had he not settled for a half by conceding Swede Peter Hanson a six footer on the last green of the last game.

There were also European wins for Miguel Angel Jiménez, Søren Hansen, Søren Kjeldsen and Francesco Molinari, while Robert Rock overcame Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño.

“They win the trophy, but we are probably not on the same level the first three days,” said Jiménez after defeating Ross Fisher. “On the other hand, like you said, I played very well today.  He was three up on me a couple of times.”

Molinari, a 5 and 4 winner against Oliver Wilson, added: “I think it was a pretty low point after yesterday, so it was hard to do worse than that, so we managed to play some good golf today in the end. It's just really disappointing.”

"That was the match I wanted all week," said McIlroy, described as "sensational" by Bjorn.

McIlroy, round in a six under 65, commented: "I'd be lying if I said my hands weren't a little shaky over the (five foot) putt on the last, but it's been a fantastic week and I'll be very disappointed if I don't make The Ryder Cup now."

Stenson came back from two down to one up, fell behind again to a spectacular shot at the 14th and then at all square with two to play hooked into the trees and double bogeyed.

"I think I proved to be a worthy opponent to Rory - he's playing fantastic," said the Swede. "I would expect him to be on the squad next year."

McDowell, out in a six under 30 and matching McIlroy's four points out of five, stated: "We played some phenomenal golf and it's a very sweet victory."

Needing only two points from the ten singles, that margin had become 1 1/2 before a shot was struck.

Anthony Wall hurt his shoulder winning his second game on Friday and a day's rest was not enough to get him back into action.

His withdrawal meant a half with Alvaro Quiros, who had been drawn to play Wall.

McGinley was another star of the show in his first attempt at captaincy.

Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie described the Dubliner as being "incredible", adding: "He's taken to this like a fish to water. His team meetings have been exceptional. He's worked as a psychologist as well and I've been very impressed with him."

"I've just done what I believe in and what I've learned from experience over the years," McGinley stated.

"I've acted on instinct and I've been very, very fortunate in the captains I've played under."

Sam Torrance, captain for McGinley's Ryder Cup debut at The Belfry in 2002 when he was the match-winner, was given special mention.

"To be honest, most of the stuff I'm doing in captaincy I'm doing from Sam. I've learnt more than him than the rest. Not that the others were wrong, but the others did what Sam did. He was my first introduction to captaincy."

There was no forgetting either that the match honoured the career of Seve Ballesteros, too sick to travel after radiotherapy.

"We've talked a lot about Seve - I think we really played with his spirit," added McGinley.

Ballesteros did send a message to both teams. “I want to thank all my colleagues, the players, for the support and respect they have shown me over the years, and especially now,” he said.

“I wish I could have been there today, at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, but I don’t have enough strength at the moment as my radiotherapy treatment finished last week, and I am suffering its consequences. I have followed the matches on TV and I was very happy to see competitive golf and great champions trying their best.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Paul McGinley and his whole team for the victory in this year’s Seve Trophy, and I hope this experience helps all the players for the future. I also want to thank Thomas Björn and the whole Continental Europe Team for their tremendous effort. 

“I want to end up this short note by thanking Vivendi for supporting this year’s Seve Trophy. I want to thank The European Tour, and all the French fans that went to watch the competition. Finally I want to thank all the people that are supporting me and sending me many messages of support, these really help me to keep going.”

Björn still believes that every one of his Continental Europe side is capable of making The Ryder Cup team next year.

"There's a lot of talent on our side - they just didn't get it done this week. There's nobody on my team that can't be in the next Ryder Cup team,” said the Dane.

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