GB&I close Seve Trophy gap
Paul Casey (Getty Images)
Paris - Great Britain and Ireland have produced a storming comeback during Friday's fourballs at the Seve Trophy but two short missed putts on the final green of the last match kept them from pulling level.
Europe now lead the match 5 1/2 to 4 1/2 after beginning the day two points clear.
Friday's action at the majestic St-Nom-La-Breteche Golf Club was a series of swings in momentum as both teams played fantastic golf combined with crucial errors.
After Europe took control on the front nine to lead in three of five matches, Sam Torrance's men finally produced their best golf on the back nine to take three of the five points on offer.
The match is now finely poised heading into eight matches of foursomes on Saturday.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Dutchman Joost Luiten threw away a three hole lead down the sretch against Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood but the English pairing cracked on the final green with two attempts to halve the match.
Torrance was delighted with his team's overall form.
"Fantastic, the golf that was played was beautiful. Jamie Donaldson was 9-under on his own and these two boys there (Fleetwood and Wood) were 3 down and four to play," he said.
"Scott Jamieson was 1 down, two to play, we could easily have lost those two points but we ended up winning one and losing one.
"A great shame for them but it's a great comeback and we're only a point behind."
As on the opening day, Great Britain and Ireland posted the first point when the English team of Paul Casey and Simon Khan improved on their half point of Thursday by defeating Mikko Ilonen of Finland and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen 3 and 2.
Casey held the hot putter with four of the pair's six birdies while Ilonen failed to produce the same form that helped him and his partner to victory on Thursday with just one birdie on the day.
While that brought Great Britain and Ireland within a point of Jose Maria Olazabal's men, they were quickly brought back down to earth by another masterclass of matchplay golf from Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
They ran into an off-form team of former British Open winner Paul Lawrie and fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher who were only able to muster one birdie all day, crashing to a record-equalling defeat of 6 and 5.
Colsaerts, who was drafted in as a wildcard by Olazabal for the sensational Ryder Cup victory last year at Medinah, drained four of the seven birdies while Fernandez-Castano, who only came in as a late replacement, was also on top form, as they won in style for the second time in 24 hours.
Great Britain and Ireland skipper Sam Torrance's decision to change his line-up and pair Welshman Jamie Donaldson with Marc Warren of Scotland paid spectacular dividends as they chalked up the next point with a 4 and 2 victory over veterans Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and chain-smoking cigar Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Donaldson had a sizzling round with eight birdies and an eagle including a streak of four birdies, eagle and finally birdie again at the 16th which clinched the match.
"We both played well. I think the key a lot of the time is the fact we were both in a lot of holes which made it easier for one of us to make the birdie to close out the hole," said 38-year-old Donaldson.
The Italian pairing of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, who halved their match on Thursday with a birdie at 18 were involved in another cliffhanger against England's David Lynn and Scotland's Scott Jamieson
Jamieson birdied the 17th to tie the match and send the Italians into another tense finale and it was the bearded Scot who nailed his birdie putt to snatch what was an unexpected victory.
Both Italians had short birdie putts to halve the match but saw their efforts slide past the hole.
Europe won their only Seve Trophy back at the maiden event in 2000.
Collated Seve Trophy scores from the second day of fourballs between
Continental Europe and Great Britain & Ireland at the
Saint-Nom-la-Breteche golf club on Friday:
Continental Europe: 5 1/2
Great Britain & Ireland: 4 1/2
Paul Casey (ENG)/Simon Khan (ENG) bt Mikko Ilonen (FIN)/Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 3 and 2
Scott Jamieson (SCO)/David Lynn (ENG) bt Francesco Molinari (ITA)/Matteo Manassero (ITA) one hole
Jamie Donaldson (WAL)/Marc Warren (SCO) bt Thomas Bjorn (DEN)/Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 4 and 2
Gregory Bourdy (FRA)/Joost Luiten (NED) bt Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)/Chris Wood (ENG) one hole
Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL)/Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) bt Paul Lawrie (SCO)/Stephen Gallacher (SCO) 6 and 5Pairings for Saturday's first session of foursomes matches in the eighth edition of the Seve Trophy tournament between Great Britan and Ireland against Continental Europe at St-Nom-la-Breteche golf club near Paris (08:50 SA time):Continental Europe lead Great Britain and Ireland 5 1/2 to 4 1/2
Paul Lawrie (SCO)/Stephen Gallacher (SCO) v Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL)/Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP)
Jamie Donaldson (WAL)/Marc Warren (SCO) v Joost Luiten (NED)/Gregory Bourdy (FRA)
Chris Wood (ENG)/Scott Jamieson (SCO) v Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN)/Francesco Molinari (ITA)
Paul Casey (ENG)/Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) v Miguel Angel Jimenez(ESP)/Matteo Manassero (ITA)