GBI Retain Seve Trophy

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VALENCIA, Spain -- Padraig Harrington birdied the 18th hole Sunday to halve his match and give the Great Britain and Ireland team enough points to retain the Seve Trophy. With Harrington's halve of Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Poulter's halve with Niclas Fasth, the GB&I squad defeated the Continental European team, 15 - 13.
 
The Continental team was dealt a blow early on when Thomas Bjorn withdrew prior to his match with Paul Casey due to a neck injury. The walkover gave the GB&I team its' 11th point.
 
Bjorn tried to loosen up his stiff neck on the range, but the neck was too painful to play. He finished the event with an 0-4-1 record dropping him to 4-9-2 lifetime in Seve Trophy matches. Casey evened his career mark in the event at 4-4, with a 3-2 record this time around.
 
'It is a recurring injury I have now and again and it just popped up at the wrong time,' said Bjorn. 'I am obviously very disappointed for myself and also very disappointed for my teammates. When I woke up this morning, I felt a little something but I did all the physio stuff I normally do and everything appeared to be okay. But when I went down to hit some balls on the range it just got worse and it got to the stage where there was nothing I could do.'
 
Great Britain and Ireland captain Colin Montgomerie beat Continental European captain Seve Ballesteros for the first time by a score of 5-and-4. David Howell narrowly downed Alex Cejka, 1-up, to give the GB&I team 13 points. Justin Rose, who led throughout his match, handed Raphael Jacquelin a 3-and-2 loss for GB&I's 14th point.
 
Prior to the two halves that sealed the match, Ignacio Garrido and Fredrik Jacobson tried to rally the Continental European team with back-to-back wins. Garrido beat Paul Lawrie, 3 and 2, while Jacobson downed Lee Westwood, 2 and 1.
 
After Harrington halved his match to retain the trophy for the GB&I team and Poulter halved Fasth, Europe won the final two matches of the day. Sergio Garcia erased an early deficit to soundly knock off Phillip Price, 4 and 3. Miguel Angel Jimenez, who trailed most of the match, rallied late for a 2-and-1 win over Brian Davis.
 
'To be up 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 after the first day was vital,' said Montgomerie, who went 2-1-2 this weekend and is now 6-7-2 in this event. 'I think whatever team got ahead would've stayed ahead and it was vital for us to take that lead.'
 
Montgomerie, who lost to Ballesteros in their first two meetings at this event, fell 2-down to the Spaniard through five holes. Monty came back to win the sixth, but Ballesteros won the very next hole to regain the 2-up lead.
 
That was all the Continental captain could do though. Montgomerie turned on the after-burners and blew out his counterpart. The Scotsman ran off seven consecutive wins for the 5-and-4 conquest. He captured each of the last two holes in the match, Nos. 13 and 14, with birdies.
 
'I was going very well for the first seven holes, but then I don't know what happened,' said Ballesteros, who went 0-4 this weekend to fall to 3-5 lifetime in his event. 'The wheels just came off and Colin produced some tremendous golf. It is the first time I ever lost seven holes in a row. It makes me feel that I have to practice tomorrow for the next Seve Trophy.'
 
Cejka, who had teamed with Jacquelin to win their first four matches, grabbed an early 1-up lead on Howell, when the Englishman bogeyed the first. Cejka bogeyed the fourth to square the match though.
 
The duo traded wins on the seventh and eighth before Howell won the ninth. Howell picked up another with at that 11th for a 2-up lead. Cejka fought back with a birdie win on 15, but Howell won the next with a birdie.
 
Cejka, who entered with a 2-6-1 record at this event, won the 17th as Howell bogeyed the par-3. The duo halved the final hole giving Howell the 1-up win. Cejka improved his record to 6-7-2, while Howell improved to 5-2 in two appearances.
 
Garrido lost each of the first two holes to Lawrie, but turned his 2-down deficit into a 2-up lead by winning four straight holes from the third. Lawrie won Nos. 9 and 13, but Garrido regained his 2-up lead with victories on the 11th and 14th.
 
Lawrie, who struggled to a 0-4-1 record this weekend, bogeyed the 16th at Campo de Golf Parador El Saler to lose the match. He saw his career mark at this event tumble to 3-8-3.
 
Jacobson continued the Continental European charge. He picked up three wins over the first seven holes, but Westwood, who had won the fourth hole, squared the match with wins on Nos. 8 and 11. Jacobson birdied the 14th and 17th to earn the 2-and-1 victory. Westwood though moved his record to 10-4 overall with a 3-2 mark this week.
 
Rose, playing in the eighth match against Jacquelin, took an early 2-up lead with a birdie on the second and an eagle on the third. Jacquelin got back within 1-down with a birdie on the eighth.
 
Rose then ran off three straight wins, all with birdies, to go 4-up. He birdied the 13th to make it 5-up with five holes left. Jacquelin tried for a miraculous comeback as he won the next two holes, but the match belonged to Rose when the men halved the 16th. The win put the GB&I squad a 1/2 point from victory.
 
The Harrington and Olazabal match was tight throughout. The Irishman won the first, but Olazabal responded with a win at the second to square the match. Harrington birdied the par-5 third and eagled the par-5 fifth to take a 2-up lead.
 
Olazabal birdied the eighth to get it to 1-down and squared the match with another birdie at the 13th. Harrington bogeyed the 14th to fall 1-down but knotted the match back up with a birdie at the next. The Spaniard regained a 1-up lead with a birdie on 16.
 
Harrington hit a tremendous shot to the 18th green though. Olazabal, who also knocked his second shot on the green, could not convert his lengthy birdie try to win the match. Harrington sank his short birdie putt to halve the match and give the GB&I squad the requisite 14 1/2 points to retain the Seve Trophy.
 
'It was a good team performance. Everyone got something out of it,' Monty said. 'We all gained at least a 1/2 point which is vital. It was a team effort. There's 10 people on the team and all 10 contributed something to that 14 1/2-point mark which we had to reach.'
 
Poulter and Fasth quickly followed up the 18th. Each player picked up one win over the first seven holes, however, Poulter burst to a 3-up lead by winning Nos. 9, 10 and 12.
 
Fasth rallied to win the 13th as well as Nos. 16 and 17 to square the match. The duo halved the last giving the GB&I team its' final point total of 15.
 
Garcia was facing Price in the final match. Price won the first, but Garcia fought back with wins at the third and fifth to go 1-up. The Spaniard picked up back-to-back wins from the seventh to extend his margin to 3-up.
 
Price came back to birdie the ninth and get back within 2-down. Garcia birdied the par-5 11th and closed out the win with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
 
Jimenez, playing in the penultimate match, but the last to finish, quickly fell 2-down as Davis birdied the first two holes. Jimenez won the third with a birdie, but Davis moved his lead back to 2-up when Jimenez bogeyed the seventh.
 
The Spaniard came back with a birdie on the eighth. Davis then earned his final win at the 10th when Jimenez bogeyed. Jimenez reeled off wins at the 11th, 13th and 14th for a 1-up lead and moved it to 2-up when Davis bogeyed the 16th. Jimenez earned the competition's final point with a 2-and-1 win when the duo halved the 17th.
 
'It's been a great week, as Colin said. The matches have been very close as we both have predicted early in the week,' Ballesteros said. 'The only problem with the week was the result, but that's the game. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose and this time Great Britain and Ireland won. I'll go tell my players to start practicing now for next time.'
 
Related Links:
  • Final Scores - The Seve Trophy
  • Full Coverage - The Seve Trophy