Great Britain and Ireland got off to the best possible start in the Inaugural Seve Ballesteros Trophy, mainly thanks to Thomas Bjorn, a European Team member.
Bjorn missed an 18-inch putt on the last green to lose a match they should have won at an earlier stage as he and his partner, Robert Karlsson were in total command. Karlsson and Bjorn won the second hole, lead at the halfway point before increasing their lead to 2up after 14 holes only to see Phillip Price can a tram-liner at the par three 15th hole for a birdie two to reduce the deficit.
And with a bogey five at the next from Bjorn and Karlsson, Price and Harrington suddenly found themselves back in the match and getting at least half a point out of the morning foursomes.
But Bjorn made the fatal error of missing a tap in par putt at the 18th to hand the Welsh/Irish combination a winning point and GB&I a 3-1 lead going into the afternoon Fourballs and helped Captain Monty’s lunch taste that little better. “The last match on the course was very important. Phil and Padraig were not in front until the last hole and that’s the best place to go ahead. To be 3-1 instead of 2-2 makes a big, big difference”. Said Montgomerie. “Woosie and I were 5-under par and Lee and Darren were 6-under. I thought they would give us that sort of start as they know each other well from the Ryder Cup”.
Monty started the point rolling with partner Ian Woosnam, defeating the prime Spanish pairing of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2&1. The little Welshman gelled well with Monty and justified his place in the GB&I team. “We were five under today and didn’t drop a shot. We played very well and it was a case of us knocking in a few more putts than they did”. Said Woosnam. “I holed form 20 feet at the 14th for eagle which helped our case. It wasn’t exactly the nail in their coffin but it made life easier for us”.
Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood made light work of Alexander Cjeka and compatriot Bernhard Langer with a 4&3 victory. Langer gave all the credit to his Ryder Cup teammates Clarke and Westwood: “They played very well. We played very well but we didn’t putt well. We had a few three putts and that made the difference. But I must say, they played fantastic”. And for Westwood, it brought back memories from bygone Ryder Cup days with his old pal Clarke. “We dovetailed very well together. It was just like the old days in the Ryder Cup, although I played better today than I did at Brookline. It’s nice to resume the partnership with Darren, he knows this place like the back of his hand and he is great for advice when I need it. We feel really comfortable together”.
But the European team stole a point back when Sergio Garcia and Open Championship runner up Jean Van de Velde swept past Open Champion Paul Lawrie and Gary Orr by 3&2. “We played very well and made four birdies and not one bogey which was very important in playing foursomes”. Said Garcia.
And Undoubtedly, Thomas Bjorn received a telling off from Captain Seve, notorious for speaking his mind and Bjorn will be all guns blazing this afternoon to try and rectify his misdemeanor on the 18th green.