- POSTED: 04 Oct 2013 00:55
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Continental Europe got the start they wanted in their bid to win the Seve Trophy for the first time since 2000 when they dominated Thursday's foursomes, taking a 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 lead over Great Britain and Ireland.
SAINT-NORM-LA-BRETECHE, France: Continental Europe got the start they wanted in their bid to win the Seve Trophy for the first time since 2000 when they dominated Thursday's foursomes, taking a 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 lead over Great Britain and Ireland.
Defending champions Great Britain and Ireland were first on the scoreboard thanks to a rock-solid performance from Scotish duo Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher which gave them a 3 and 2 victory over Continental Europe's strongest pairing of Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, as rain and cloudy weather made life difficult.
While three birdies over the last three holes carried Sam Torrance's lead-off pairing to victory, the Europeans struck back swiftly.
Captain Jose Maria Olazabal looked on as Ryder Cup winner Nicolas Colsaerts and debutant Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano thrashed the second Scottish pairing of Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson, blowing the match wide open with four straight birdies between them to win 5 and 3.
As the rain finally gave way to bright sunshine towards the end of the afternoon, there was more good news for the Europeans when Finland's Mikko Ilonen and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen were able to nurse home a one-hole lead by matching a gritty effort from English pairing Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood and give Olazabal his team's second point on the 18th green.
The tension mounted with Europe sensing a chance to take a strong lead into day two after being up on the scorecard in the remaining two matches.
A titanic struggle between Italian duo Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero and England's Paul Casey and Simon Khan produced birdies from either or both teams over the final eight holes before the Britons took a one shot lead onto the 18th tee.
But a great approach shot to the picturesque final green gave Molinari a birdie putt to draw level and the experienced Italian, who is one of the few players to have a winning record for the Europeans, sunk a 12-footer to share the point.
But Olazabal's team took the day's final point when Bordeaux native Gregory Bourdy got his Seve Trophy debut off to the perfect start by teaming up with unflappable Dutchman Joost Luiten to win 2 and 1 against Welshman Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn of England.
The Europeans will take heart from an almost ideal start to their quest to win the trophy for only the second time in eight attempts after winning the maiden tournamant in 2000 when Seve Ballesteros captained a team that included Olazabal.
Friday will feature five matches of fourballs before a packed schedule on Saturday with both 10 matches on tap, before the always dramatic final day of singles play.