SAINT-NOM-LA-BRETECHE (AP) — Britain and Ireland led 3-2 over Europe after Thursday’s opening fourballs of the Vivendi Trophy, a matchplay event on the European Tour.
Captained by three-time Ryder Cup winner Paul McGinley, Britain and Ireland had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 but Continental Europe hit back each time at the Saint-Nom-la-Breteche Golf Club on the outskirts of Paris.
The Vivendi Trophy, formerly known as the Seve Trophy after Seve Ballesteros, was created in 2000. Europe won the inaugural event before Britain and Ireland won it four consecutive times.
But without the likes of Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, McGinley’s team was expected to be strongly challenged this year.
England’s Anthony Wall and Chris Wood scored the first point by beating Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson 6 and 5.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy beat Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Alvaro Quiros of Spain 4 and 3.
Anders Hansen of Denmark and Francesco Molinari of Italy narrowed the gap by downing England’s Robert Rock and Steve Webster 4 and 3.
England’s Simon Dyson and Oliver Wilson then won 3 and 2 against Soren Hansen of Denmark and Peter Hanson of Sweden.
However, Spain’s Miguel-Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano came from two holes down to win 2 and 1 against England’s Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty.
Five other fourballs are set for Friday.
Ballesteros, who has undergone four operations to remove a cancerous brain tumor, says he will try to attend at the weekend.
“I am feeling very tired at the moment as I have just finished my radiotherapy treatments, which I have been receiving over the past month,” Ballesteros said in a statement. “I will wait until the end of the week to decide if I’m able to attend or not.”