Hero Cup: Continental Europe lead GB&I by 2 points heading into Sunday Singles

Victor Perez and Guido Migliozzi emerged as a top-performing duo for Continental Europe on Saturday as BMW PGA champion Shane Lowry suffered two more losses in the foursomes.

Matt Chivers's picture
Sat, 14 Jan 2023
Hero Cup: Continental Europe lead GB&I by 2 points heading into Sunday Singles

Continental Europe extended their lead over Great Britain and Ireland to two points in the Hero Cup on Saturday, taking an 8.5-6.5 lead into the Sunday singles in Abu Dhabi.

The sides captained by Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood shared the spoils in the morning foursomes at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Saturday with 2.5 points apiece, with the only tie coming between Thomas Pieters & Alex Noren and Ewen Ferguson & Richard Mansell.

Molinari's side edged ahead in the afternoon as Victor Perez & Guido Migliozzi took the final match of the day against Robert MacIntyre & Seamus Power 2&1. There will be 10 singles matches on Sunday with the inaugural Hero Cup to play for.

Perez & Migliozzi scored maximum points on foursomes day, while Molinari also produced a two-point partnership with Nicolai Hojgaard, who replaced his injured brother Rasmus in the field.

One surprising turn-up has been the struggles of Shane Lowry. The 2019 Open champion has failed to score a point for GB&I, losing matches alongside Power and Tyrrell Hatton on day two.

Morning foursomes: 5.5-4.5

Pieters & Noren, fresh from earning a point together in the fourballs on Friday, lost the first three holes to Ferguson & Mansell on Saturday morning and they were 4 down to the GB&I pair after six holes too.

But then Ferguson and Mansell only made one birdie in their next seven holes and walking off the par-4 13th, the match was all-square. The British pair won 17 with a par, but Continental Europe birdied the final hole to salvage an unlikely half.

Fleetwood and Hatton earned their first full points of the week in the UAE with a 1 up win over Sepp Straka & Thomas Detry. Straka, a one-time winner on the PGA Tour, was 0 for two matches at this stage.

Much like Ferguson & Mansell, childhood friends Callum Shinkwin & Matt Wallace could feel aggrieved not to taste victory in their morning foursomes game as they went 3 up after seven holes against Molinari & Hojgaard.

Continental Europe made two birdies in the next three holes to square things up and then the men in blue took control. A par on 12 and a birdie on 13 took them 2 up and they sealed the deal 3&1 with a par on 17.

Perez & Migliozzi won with similar ease against the Irish pair of Lowry & Seamus Power. The French/Italian duo won 3&2 and dumped more misery on Lowry who lost his fourball match on Friday.

MacIntyre made it two points out of two for himself alongside Jordan Smith against Antoine Rozner and Adrian Meronk. Continental Europe went 3 up after five holes with four early birdies. 

The DS Automobiles Italian Open champion provided one of the moments of the day when he sensationally holed a bunker shot for birdie on the 12th hole.

They maintained a 2 up advantage with seven holes left, but GB&I made a birdie on 12 and a par on 14 to tie things up. The Scotsman holed a crucial birdie putt on 18 to tie the session 2.5-2.5.

Afternoon foursomes: 8.5-6.5

Molinari & Hojgaard maintained their unbeaten record together in the opening foursomes session of the afternoon, overcoming Ferguson & Mansell 2&1.

Wallace & Shinkwin finally earned their first point of the week with a 2&1 over Rozner & Meronk. Much like the manner of Continental Europe's win in the first match, GB&I were never down in this showdown as Wallace holed the decisive birdie putt on 17.

Having tasted success in separate matches in the morning, Fleetwood & Smith paired up to score maximum points on Saturday in a 2&1 victory against Pieters & Noren, a European pair that impressively won the top match in the Friday fourballs against Fleetwood & Lowry.

GB&I were 1 down after eight holes but made two birdies in their next five holes to go 1 up. After Smith holed a par putt on 16 to go dormie 2 up, his fellow countryman did the same on 17 for the point.

Straka tasted victory for the first time in the afternoon alongside Thomas Detry as Continental Europe beat Lowry & Hatton 1 up in the match, heaping more misery on Lowry who remained scoreless.

After a birdie on the 5th hole and a par on the 6th, GB&I remained 1 up in this match until the turn. Detry holed for birdie on 11, but Hatton did the same on 12 to square things up. Detry rolled in another important birdie on 17 which proved crucial as GB&I could only manage a half on the 18th.

Perez & Migliozzi significantly took the last point of the day, emerging as a fruitful pair for Molinari's side. They took the lead on the 6th hole against Power & MacIntyre and didn't look back, making steady pars and a crucial birdie on the 12th hole.

The GB&I pair, who impressively swept away Straka & Meronk in the fourballs, couldn't find a birdie on 17 to extend the match. Continental Europe edged the session 3-2 to double the overall lead heading into the singles.