SAINT-NOM-LA-BRETECHE, France – Britain and Ireland took a 4-1 lead over Continental Europe after the opening fourballs Thursday in the Vivendi Seve Trophy.
Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari won the only point for the European team with a single-hole victory over Mark Foster and Lee Westwood.
“I’m obviously delighted, really delighted I got my pairings right,” Britain and Ireland captain Paul McGinley said. “I got experience in each group.”
Scott Jamieson and Ross Fisher were the standout performers, beating Peter Hanson and Raphael Jacquelin 6 and 4. Also, Robert Rock and Ian Poulter defeated Thomas Bjorn and Alexander Noren, and Darren Clarke and David Horsey beat Nicolas Colsaerts and Matteo Manassero.
Playing with Pablo Larrazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez hit the first tee shot in honor of late tournament creator Seve Ballesteros. The Spanish pair lost to Simon Dyson and Jamie Donaldson.
In near-perfect conditions at the Saint-Nom-la-Breteche course, Britain and Ireland were up at the turn in all five matches.
Surprisingly, the team’s only loss came in the pairing containing the tournament’s top-ranked player, the second-ranked Westwood.
Foster chipped in from a bunker on the eighth hole as the English pair took a two-hole advantage, but Hansen made a birdie putt on No. 10 to cut the deficit and Molinari had a birdie on the 12th to tie it.
Another birdie from the Italian player on the par-5, 15th gave the pair the lead for good.
Dyson and Donaldson set the tone in the first match after taking a narrow lead over the opening nine holes against Jimenez and Larrazabal.
Jimenez ramped up the pressure with some attacking iron play on the back nine, but the Britain and Ireland pair kept the Spanish duo at bay to take a 2 and 1 win.
In the second match, Jamieson, one of three Britain and Ireland players ranked outside the world’s top 100, partnered with Fisher to a two-hole lead after nine holes against Hanson and Jacquelin before earning an easy victory.
Clarke, the British Open champion, showed an experienced touch to hit the middle of the green on the 18th, ensuring he and Horsey held off Colsaerts and Manassero for a one-hole win.
Rock’s solid putting alongside Poulter earned the English pair a 5 and 3 victory over Bjorn and Noren.
Although Continental Europe started as the favorite, Britain and Ireland captured the last five trophies. Continental Europe’s only victory came in the first tournament in 2000.