Paul McGinley (Getty Images)
Great Britain & Ireland regained the initiative at the Vivendi Seve Trophy with a 3 ½-½ session win in Saturday morning’s greensomes.
Having led 4-1 after the opening day’s fourballs, Paul McGinley’s side had looked on course for a sixth consecutive title.
But Jean Van de Velde’s Continental Europe side responded brilliantly on Friday to close the gap to one, only for a difficult third session to leave them trailing 9-5 at St-Nom-La-Bretèche.
Simon Dyson and Jamie Donaldson, acting as lead pair for the third time this week, took their impressive record to two wins and a draw with a 2 and 1 victory over rookie pairing Nicolas Colsaerts and Matteo Manassero.
Dyson missed a five foot birdie chance at the second but there was no let off for the Continental Europeans at the next when last week’s KLM Open champion converted Donaldson’s excellent tee shot to the par three.
That lead doubled at the next when Manassero missed a ten foot par putt, but Colsaerts holed birdie putts at the seventh, eighth and ninth.
Donaldson matched his 20 footer at the eighth, but the other two were good enough to win the holes and make it all square at the turn.
But Dyson and Donaldson went two up again with birdies at the 14th and 15th and this time there was to be no comeback.
Swedes Alex Noren and Peter Hanson picked up Continental Europe’s only half of the morning when Ryder Cup star Hanson holed a 20 footer on the final green to cancel out Darren Clarke and David Horsey’s eagle at the 17th.
Horsey’s approach to two feet at the penultimate hole looked to have decided the match, but Hanson had other ideas.
Horsey had holed 20 foot birdie putts on the first two greens, although Hanson cancelled out the first with a five foot conversion following a brilliant approach by Noren.
Hanson and Noren – impressive 5 and 3 winners over Ian Poulter and Robert Rock in Friday’s fourballs – found themselves two down when, like Continental Europe’s opening pair, they bogeyed the fourth.
But they birdied the eighth and ninth to turn all square, only to lose the next two holes in a topsy-turvy contest.
A birdie at the 12th and an eagle at the 15th pulled them level before they denied Great Britain & Ireland a clean sweep.
In the third match out Poulter, joined by Ryder Cup and World Cup partner Ross Fisher, won 2 and 1 against Thomas Björn and Raphaël Jacquelin.
A birdie at the second put the English duo ahead, before Björn and Jacquelin won the fifth and sixth to go one up, only for a perfect Poulter pitch to a foot at the next to level matters.
The 14th and 15th again proved the decisive holes – the English pair going birdie-eagle to win both and claim the point.
In the last match out World Number Two Lee Westwood was again in top form as he partnered Scott Jamieson to a 4 and 3 victory over Pablo Larrazabal and Miguel Angel Jiménez.
Both Spaniards drove into trees at the fourth, although on opposite sides of the fairway, and Jamieson took full advantage of Westwood’s tee shot down the middle with an approach to within a foot.
Jiménez missed a six foot par putt at the fifth to put the Great Britain & Ireland pair one up, and that lead was doubled at the next when the Spaniards ran up a third consecutive bogey and Westwood calmly converted a four foot par putt.
Jamieson’s eight foot birdie putt put Great Britain & Ireland three up after seven, and the pair won an incredible six holes in a row when they took the eighth and ninth with birdies.
The Spaniards briefly threatened a fightback, but another birdie at the 15th closed out the contest.
Both Captains opted for a complete reshuffle as the format switched to foursomes for the afternoon session.
McGinley paired Donaldson with the returning Rock at the top of the order, where they faced Italians Francesco Molinari – another to have sat out the morning session – and Manassero.
The other Continental European not to feature in the greensomes, Anders Hansen, returned with compatriot Björn to face Fisher and Mark Foster in game two.
Dyson moved down the order to partner Poulter against Larrazabal and Noren, with Westwood and Horsey facing Jacquelin and Colsaerts in the anchor match.
That meant Clarke and Jamieson were rested for Great Britain & Ireland, while Ryder Cup pairing Jiménez and Hanson sat out for Van De Velde’s side.
The foursomes were evenly split at the halfway stage – Rock and Donaldson won three holes out of four from the eighth to be two up, Björn and Hansen were three up through ten, while there was a single hole in it in games three and four – Larrazabal and Noren and Westwood and Horsey holding the slenderest of leads.