Continental Europe dominate opening day in Paris

10/3/2013 4:04:00 PM
Joost Luiten and Gregory Bourdy   (Getty Images)
Joost Luiten and Gregory Bourdy (Getty Images)
Joost Luiten starred as Continental Europe claimed a two-point lead after day one of the Seve Trophy by Golf+ as José María Olazábal's side look to end a run of six straight defeats.

Scottish pair Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher beat veteran duo Miguel Angel Jiménez and Thomas Björn 3 and 2 to give Great Britain a& Ireland an early lead at Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche.

However, Europe were ahead in the remaining four fourballs as that match finished and went on to win three and halve the other to lead by 3 ½-1 ½.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Nicolas Colsaerts beat Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson 5 and 3 to level the scores before Mikko Ilonen and Thorbjørn Olesen survived a nervy finish to overcome Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood on the 18th, ending Wood's unbeaten record in the event.

Francesco Molinari then birdied the last to ensure he and Matteo Manassero snatched a half against Paul Casey and Simon Khan, before Luiten and Gregory Bourdy beat Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn 2 and 1.

Asked what pleased him the most about the day, Olazábal said: "The way the youngsters played; Joost played extraordinarily well today and made a bunch of birdies, Thorbjørn also played very well.

"It was a great experience for them but the main thing is to win points and I think the team is really happy today."

GB&I Captain Sam Torrance added: "They played very well. Our boys played very well too but they made a few more birdies than us. Our turn tomorrow.

"You put your best match out first and they stood up to be counted with a great win, Fleetwood and Wood had a great comeback and that could have gone either way. It looked like 4-1 down and it almost could have turned to 3-2 ahead but that's golf."

The best golf of the day came from the in-form Luiten, who covered the front nine in an approximate 29 as he and Bourdy saw off Donaldson and Lynn.

“It was a good match,” said Luiten, who recently captured the KLM Open in his native Netherlands. “We made three birdies in the first six holes and were only 1 up. 

“You win two and you're 3 up after nine, and the back nine - we didn't play great, but it was good enough.”

Olazábal had opted to send out his most experienced pairing first with Björn having played in all but one of the previous contests - captaining the side instead in 2009 - while Jimènez is the only player to have competed in all seven.

They are the two most capped players in the history of the event with a total of 59 matches between them - not to mention a combined age of 91 - but eventually succumbed to three birdies in the last four holes from former Open Champion Lawrie and rookie Gallacher.

"It's always nice to win," Lawrie said. "Obviously there is a little bit more pressure when you are going out there first, you want to get a point on the board which we managed to do and we both combined very well today."

Ilonen and Olesen were two up with three to play before gifting their opponents the 16th when they both found water off the tee, but Fleetwood and Wood were unable to birdie the par five 17th and Wood missed from eight feet on the last to snatch a half.

"It's a different kind of pressure than we normally have, you play for the team and want to win for the team," Olesen said.

"We were looking pretty good and then hit a couple of bad shots and put ourselves under pressure but lucky enough we finished it off."

There was never more than one hole in the match between Molinari and Manassero and Casey and Khan, the latter pair making birdies on the 15th and 16th to go from one down to one up with two to play.

However, Molinari then got lucky that his wild drive on the 18th finished on an adjacent fairway and gave him a perfect line into the green, the Ryder Cup star duly hitting a superb approach to six feet for a birdie.

Not surprisingly, Olazábal decided against shuffling his pairings for the second day fourballs, while Torrance paired Lynn with Jamieson and Donaldson with Warren.

Ilonen and Olesen were set to go head-to-head with Casey and Khan in the opening game, with GB&I’s new pairings facing Molinari and Manassero and Björn and Jiménez respectively in the second and third contests.

Luiten and Bourdy were up against Fleetwood and Wood, with Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castaño retaining their anchor role, this time versus Lawrie and Gallacher.

Tee times for fourball matches on second day of Seve Trophy by Golf+:

1135 Paul Casey & Simon Khan v Mikko Ilonen & Thorbjørn Olesen

1150 David Lynn & Scott Jamieson v Francesco Molinari & Matteo Manassero

1205 Jamie Donaldson & Marc Warren v Thomas Björn & Miguel Angel Jimenez

1220 Tommy Fleetwood & Chris Wood v Joost Luiten & Gregory Bourdy

1235 Paul Lawrie & Stephen Gallacher v Nicolas Colsaerts & Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño