Garcia leads European recovery

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The Independent Online

The first day of the inaugural Seve Ballesteros Trophy tournament.

Britain and Ireland won the morning foursomes 3-1 but Europe took the fourballs 3-1. Four more fourballs and four greensomes - where all four players drive before each pair plays alternate shots with the preferred drive - will be followed on Sunday by 10 singles in the Ryder Cup-style event.

The 20-year-old Garcia won both his matches, linking with Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden to overcome European captain Colin Montgomerie and British Open champion Paul Lawrie 3 and 2 in the afternoon fourballs.

Garcia, who had to be persuaded to play by his captain, Ballesteros, because of a schedule conflict, was in spectacular form in the afternoon with two eagles on his card.

The first was from 20 feet on the first, the second came when he holed from a greenside bunker at the 273-yard par-4 ninth.

Sandelin also had an eagle after a five-wood second shot to two feet at the 14th and he and Garcia were 10 under par.

In the morning, Garcia and Frenchman Jean Van de Velde beat Lawrie and Gary Orr 3 and 2.

Garcia had intended to play the MCI Heritage Classic on the U.S. Tour this week and hesitated to commit to this new event because of a dispute with European Tour officials.

But Ballesteros persuaded him to change his mind.

"I felt I had to do it because Seve has helped me so much. I think my place was here," Garcia said.

"Sergio played very well. He likes this format, as we found at the last Ryder Cup," Montgomerie said. Garcia also won both his matches on the first day at Brookline last September.

Facing the loss of the morning foursomes, Ballesteros injected himself into the fourball lineup. But he and Jose Maria Olazabal, his former Ryder Cup partner, could not handle Englishmen Lee Westwood and David Howell and lost 2 and 1.

But the other three European partnerships came through.

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark atoned for missing a two-foot putt at the last in the morning to join with Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain in a 2 and 1 success over Darren Clarke and John Bickerton.

And Germans Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka made up for a loss in the foursomes to beat Ian Woosnam and Padraig Harrington 2 and 1 in the fourballs.

Ballesteros, a former world number one, has slipped to number 590 in the rankings and admitted he played like it.

"I played four or five good holes then four or five bad ones. Inconsistent but not bad for match play," he said.

In partnership with Olazabal, they won 11 matches, lost two and drew two when they played together in four Ryder Cups from 1987 to 1993.

Bjorn, playing with Robert Karlsson of Sweden, cost Europe a valuable half point in the foursomes when he missed a two-foot putt on the final hole to lose to Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Welshman Phillip Price.

Montgomerie, the world number three, thought that full point could be vital.

"To be 3-1 instead of 2-2 makes a big, big difference," the Scot said.

And so it proved.

Bjorn and Karlsson led by one hole with three to play, but Bjorn missed the green at the 438-yard 16th and dropped the hole with a bogey.

Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam won the opening match against Spaniards Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez after Woosnam put them two holes up with a 20-foot eagle putt at the 14th.

Van de Velde, golf's most famous loser for throwing away the British Open title last year, gained a small measure of revenge when he and Garcia beat Open Lawrie and fellow-Scot Orr 3 and 2.

Ballesteros was delighted at how the day went in the event bearing his name, with large crowds on the Sunningdale course in the stockbroker belt west of London.

"I felt like the players are the chicken and the people are the sauce," he said. "If you have chicken with no sauce it doesn't taste very good, does it?

"I was happy to see so many spectators and their response was great. It felt like the Ryder Cup."

Ballesteros Trophy results

First Day Score

Britain-Ireland 4, Europe 4


Colin Montgomerie-Ian Woosnam (Britain-Ireland) def. Jose Maria Olazabal-Miguel Angel Jimenez (Europe) 2 and 1. Lee Westwood-Darren Clarke (Britain/Ireland) def. Bernhard Langer-Alex Cejka (Europe) 4 and 3. Phillip Price-Padraig Harrington (Britain/Ireland) def. Robert Karlsson-Thomas Bjorn (Europe) 1 up. Sergio Garcia-Jean Van de Velde (Europe) def. Paul Lawrie-Gary Orr (Britain-Ireland) 3 and 2.


Lee Westwood-David Howell (Britain-Ireland) def. Jose Maria Olazabal-Severiano Ballesteros (Europe) 2 and 1. Thomas Bjorn-Miguel Angel Jimenez (Europe) def. Darren Clarke-John Bickerton (Britain-Ireland) 2 and 1. Bernhard Langer-Alex Cejka (Europe) def. Ian Woosnam-Padriag Harrington (Britain-Ireland) 2 and 1. Jarmo Sandelin-Sergio Garcia (Europe) def. Colin Montgomerie-Paul Lawrie (Britain-Ireland) 3 and 2.