Spain charge into four-shot lead

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal steered Spain into a four-shot lead at the World Cup of Golf yesterday, shooting a surprising nine-under-par 63 in the foursomes. Their efforts left Spain on a 17-under total of 127 for 36 holes.

Australia (68) and Germany (69) are in second place behind Spain, who opened on Thursday with a 64 in the easier fourball format. Sweden (67) are five back while the United States (69) and Ireland (68) are six off the pace.

Spain must now be favourites to win the event, which usually goes to the team that plays best in foursomes where scores are usually higher. Today, they return to the fourball format with foursomes to follow again tomorrow.

Jiminez and Larrazabal picked up seven strokes on the front nine yesterday with five birdies and an eagle. They were nine under after 11 holes before dropping their first shot of the day on the 15th. But they recovered at the next hole, moving back to nine under when Larrazabal sank a 40-foot birdie putt. On the 18th, Larrazabal missed an eight-foot putt for birdie which would have brought Spain to 10 under. The World Cup record in foursomes is 10-under 61 by Argentina in 2005.

Spain have won the event four times, including 1976 and 1977 when Seve Ballesteros was leading their challenge. They last won in 1984 with Jose Maria Cañizares and Jose Rivero pairing up. In the current competition, they have prospered despite being without Sergio Garcia, who elected not to play.