CONTINENTAL Europe won the Seve Trophy for the first time in 13 years yesterday, Francesco Molinari keeping his cool to edge out Great Britain and Ireland’s Chris Wood in the final singles match at St Nom La Breteche.
GB and Ireland had emerged triumphant in each of the last six contests, and headed into the final day locked at 9-9 with Jose Maria Olazabal’s side after a spirited fightback in Saturday’s foursomes.
There remained little to separate the teams as the singles competition progressed in north-central France.
And, just as at last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah, it all came down to Molinari in the anchor role to seal the victory. The Italian held his nerve for a 3&2 triumph over Englishman Wood to hand Continental Europe a 15-13 success.
The day started with each team awarded half a point after GB and Ireland’s Simon Khan had to pull out with a back injury, with Thomas Bjorn volunteering to step aside for the Continental Europe team as a result.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood picked up his first point of the week with a 3&2 win over Joost Luiten to put GB and Ireland ahead. Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano then halved the scrappy opening duel, before Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts sank a five-foot putt on the final green to get the better of Englishman Paul Casey.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy stormed past Scotland’s Scott Jamieson but Scot Marc Warren then won 4&3 against Dane Thorbjorn Olesen to level the match again at 12-12, but by that stage Olazabal’s side had control in three of the last four ties.
Olazabal acknowledged a solid start had been vital, but reserved particular praise for Bourdy. “I think the first two matches were crucial. To get a point and a half out of those two was big,” the Spaniard said.
“A special mention for him [Bourdy] – especially in front of his home crowd, in front of his people. The way he played, being a rookie, he did extraordinarily well.
“This is a team event. Everyone contributed, and obviously Greg did it in a big way.”
He added: “Everything went to the last match. The boys played really well today and I’m really happy to have won the Seve Trophy this time.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez, spurred by four birdies in his first six holes, thrashed England’s David Lynn 6&4 before Italian Matteo Manassero got Europe to the 14-point mark by toppling Scot Stephen Gallacher 3&2.
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie held on for a 2&1 win over Finn Mikko Ilonen, meaning it all came down to the final match-up. And Molinari, who took a two-up lead down the closing stretch, rounded things off in style, sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on 16 to beat Wood 3&2.
Molinari felt it was always going to come down to the anchor game, and was delighted - if not surprised - to have had a part to play. “It feels great,” he said. “For all the times we’ve lost in the past… it’s never a good feeling to end on the losing side.
“It was all to play for today. It [the pressure] is not like Ryder Cup but it’s a lot. You’ve got nine team-mates and you don’t want to let anyone down.”