Another Saturday, another England-Argentina confrontation. But don't expect passions to boil over with too much menace in this World Cup, although David Howell and Angel Cabrera have already been shown to possess hands of God here this week.
So, too, have the Welsh pair of Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge, who with Luke Donald and Howell share the lead at 16-under alongside the Swedes. All three teams stressed they had been rewarded for their patience yesterday in a foursomes format feared for its propensity to ruin a card in the blink of a few holes.
And that is what made the Argentinian's 61 such a pin-in-the-cornea eye-opener, a score that beat the previous low for an alternate-shot round in the World Cup. "I would never thought a 61 was possible today," said Donald, and his partner concurred. "That is one fantastic, fantastic round," said Howell. "We thought our 59 in the first round was good."
Who needs two balls to choose from when the one you have is going exactly where you intended it? Cabrera and Ricardo Gonzalez must have been thinking as much after their opening 68 left them in a tie for last and yesterday's 11-under spectacularly hurtled them to within one of the leaders. "We combined perfectly today," said Cabrera, the reigning PGA champion. "I hit very good shots and Ricardo did the same."
That just about summed up 18 holes that did not contain a single score above four, a scorecard of priceless rarity. While Gonzalez was the capable assistant, Cabrera was the magician, obviously inspired by the presence of the 14-year-old, Angel Jnr, on his bag. "My boy gave me a few bits of advice," Cabrera said. "But I didn't listen."
Good job, seeing as the birdies arrived with increasing regularity after their opening salvo of three in the first five holes that helped these best of friends to the 10th tee in 32 shots. From there it just got better and more surreal by the hole as they recorded seven threes and two fours in a humbling back nine of 29. "I though the scoreboard must be wrong," said Padraig Harrington, who up until then had been quite pleased by Ireland's 69.
Indeed, that seemed a satisfactory number for England as well, especially as they could not get any momentum going in a first 15 holes when Howell conceded, "we just hung on in there". But then followed a 2-4-3 finish to restore the ominous nature of their title defence. "Let's hope we've got our bad one out of the way today," said Donald.
Dredge and Dodd, meanwhile, appear so confident they are not anticipating a "bad one". "We believe we've really got a chance here and yes, that we will take it," said Dodd, not exactly one for the grand statement.
Wales have won the World Cup only once in the event's 52-year history, and unsurprisingly the glory march of Ian Woosnam and David Llewellyn way back in 1987 is acting as all the incentive they need. "I remember it well," said Dredge. "At my golf club they had a big picture of Woosie and Llewellyn hugging each other on the final green. It was a big thing then and I'm sure it would be again."
* Annika Sorenstam, the women's world No 1, was involved in an argument with America's Paula Creamer that lasted 20 minutes in the season-ending ADT Tour Championship in Florida. After an official agreed with Sorenstam, over where her ball should be dropped after coming to rest in a hazard, Creamer said: "It's her conscience."Reuse content