Westwood defies Europe fightback

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The Independent Online

Continental Europe's captain Jean van de Velde praised his team as they fought back to trail Great Britain and Ireland by a single point after the second day of the Vivendi Seve Trophy at St-Nom-La-Breteche.

The Europeans turned the tables after a strong day on the course, winning three of the five fourball pairings and halving another to slash their overnight deficit from 4-1 to 5-and-a-half to 4-and-a-half, despite some heroics from GB&I's Lee Westwood.

The change in fortunes justified Van de Velde's changes to the pairings, while his opposite number, Paul McGinley, stuck with the combinations that did so well on the opening day.

Van de Velde said: "I'm very proud of what they've done. They were really focused from the first hole. Yesterday was a shaky start and some of them couldn't find their rhythm. They were not there. Today they tried and they knew what they had to do to play well. I'm very happy."

The Continental Europe coach was especially pleased with the efforts of number one pairing Thomas Bjorn and Raphael Jacquelin, who fought back from 3 down to square the round against Simon Dyson and Jamie Donaldson and take a crucial half.

"It was a big half-point on the first game," Van de Velde said. "They were trailing all the way and managed to raise their game up considerably in the last five holes so I'm pleased with that."

It seemed the Europeans were in dominant mood after the pairings were mixed up from the opening day.

Miguel Angel Jimenez and fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal beat British Open champion Darren Clarke and partner David Horsey 3&2, and the rookie European pairing of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Italian Matteo Manassero claimed a 2-up win over Scott Jamieson and Ross Fisher.

Van de Velde's trust in inexperienced duo Colsaerts and Manassero paid off as they found their rhythm, having gone 1 down against Darren Clarke and David Horsey yesterday.

Van de Velde added: "Matteo is 30th in the world so, of course, he's a rookie but he's a pretty good rookie. You still have to implement the trust you have in them. They held on through the pressure and they went down to the wire."

McGinley said that he was disappointed after the change in fortunes for his team but saved special praise for world No 2 Westwood.

The GB&I pairing of Westwood and Mark Foster was the only real positive for McGinley, as they hammered Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari 5&3.

"We didn't play with the same intensity," McGinley said. "A couple of their players played really well. We know they've got quality in their team and we didn't hole the putts we did yesterday. We're playing at the very top level in the world and sometimes the other guys will go out and play better than you."

Speaking of Westwood, McGinley added: "I think he won that match on his own. Fozzy [Foster] was great when he needed to be but Westwood made birdies and eagles when he needed to.

"Westwood was very important for us. He carried it through and carried the team today."