Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley had to battle to stay in touch at the WGC-Barbados World Cup.

The odd couple pair - champions 10 years ago at Kiawah Island -needed a birdie at the last just to get to within three shots of leaders South Africa, Sweden and Argentina.

A two at the par-three 18th gave the Dubliners a four under par 67 and a share of ninth place after the opening fourballs on the windswept Caribbean island.

And they know they will need to up their performance in today's more difficult foursomes format if they are to repeat their 1997 success.

Argentina, South Africa and Sweden all carded seven under par rounds of 64 to lead by a shot from Germany and defending champions Wales.

The United States pairing of JJ Henry and Stewart Cink birdied three of the last four, as did England's Luke Donald and David Howell, to leapfrog ahead of Ireland into a share of sixth place with South Korea after rounds of 66.

Ireland ended up on the same four under par mark as Colombia, Japan, and Scotland on a showery day that looked more like May in Ireland than December in Barbados.

Playing with Singapore's Mardan Mamat and Chih-Bing Lam, Harrington and McGinley got off the perfect start with a birdie at the opening hole.

But like most of the field, they struggled in the blustery conditions to pick up birdies on the venue owned by Irish millionaires Dermot Desmond and JP McManus.

Another birdie at the short, par-four fifth moved them into the top half of the field on two under par.

But they then had to wait another nines holes for their third birdie of the day at the Tom Fazio designed course.

The par-five 14th measures a massive 584 yards and after watching Harrington come up 30 feet short with his third shot after some doubts of club selection, McGinley rifled his pitch to five feet and rolled home the putt to leave Ireland in a five-way tie for ninth at that stage.

Early starters Germany set the clubhouse target with a superb six under par 65 that was marred by a bogey five at the 17th.

Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, 49, rolled back the years in his first appearance in the World Cup for a decade.

Playing alongside pony-tailed, big hitter Marcel Siem, Langer showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with when he becomes eligible for the Seniors circuit next year.

The former Ryder Cup captain birdied the first, third and 10th while partner Siem birdied the par-five ninth.

Another birdie at the 10th put them four under before they picked up two shots in the last four holes.

Siem rolled in a fine putt at the 15th before Langer matched him with long range efforts for birdie at the par-three 16th and 18th holes.

The Germans were soon overhauled at the top as Argentina and South Africa and South Africa finished strongly.

Argentinian pair Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero got off to a bad start with a bogey at the first.

But they made amends after that with birdies at the second, third and fifth followed by five in a row from the 12th.

South African's Rory Sabbatini and Richard Sterne picked up two shots going out before rattling off five more in a home nine of 30 to post a 64.

And they were joined on that mark by Swede's Henrik Stenson and Carl Pettersson, who made seven birdies and no mistakes in their 64.