If there was any doubt that Des Smyth will be one of Paul McGinley’s assistants at next year’s Ryder Cup, Sky Sports dispelled any doubts on Saturday by featuring an ample interview with the Drogheda man on its website.
That Sky would publish a piece on 60-year old Smyth, even when contending or winning on the European Senior Tour, is a rare occurence. It’s even more rare when he’s 13 shots off the pace in the English Senior Open but “the former vice-captain” is there today, defending the big names who have opted out of the Seve Trophy in France.
Naturally, Smyth is asked about the possibilty of assisting at Gleneagles and diplomatically replies: “If I am offered the job I would be delighted but I have not heard anything.”
Given the respect McGinley has for Smyth, it would be a surprise if he is not alongside the Dubliner (and Sam Torrance) at Gleneagles next year.
As for the Seve Tropht itself, Great Britain & Ireland defeated Continental Europe 3-1 in the Saturday afternoon session of foursomes to leave the sides tied going into Sunday’s decisive singles matches, writes the European Tour.
A point behind overnight, Sam Torrance’s side found themselves 8-6 adrift after Continental Europe shaded the morning foursomes session 2½-1½.
But a superb showing in the afternoon meant the outcome of the eighth biennial contest remains finely balanced at 9-9 after an intriguing day at Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche.
Stephen Gallacher and Paul Lawrie led the way for Great Britain & Ireland, defeating Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño in the afternoon, having ended the Continental Europeans pair’s 100 per cent record earlier in the day when they came back from three down in the morning session to snatch a half – both sides missing birdie putts for the tie on the final hole.
It was sweet revenge for the Scots, who had fallen to a red-hot Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castaño by a record 6 and 5 margin in Friday’s fourballs.
Gallacher and Lawrie raced into a three up lead on the front nine, then former Open Champion Lawrie put them four up with a six foot birdie putt at the 11th. Although the Europeans took the 13th and 15th to extend the contest, Gallacher’s tap-in birdie at the penultimate hole secured a 2 and 1 victory.
Jamie Donaldson and Marc Warren, who had lost to Grégory Bourdy and Joost Luiten in the morning, then added another point when they recorded a fine 2 and 1 victory over Thomas Björn and Mikko Ilonen.
Bourdy and Luiten preserved their 100 per cent record in the competition when they held off Scott Jamieson and Chris Wood at the final hole in the afternoon session, to put José María Olazábal’s team one point ahead.
But Paul Casey and David Lynn hit back for Great Britain & Ireland, securing a vital point on the final hole when Lynn held his nerve to hole from six feet for victory over Miguel Angel Jiménez and Matteo Manassero in the final match.
“It’s been so close all week; it could have gone either way,” said Casey. “It seems like we have been getting off to bad starts all week, and this session, looked like we were getting off to a good start and things went a bit pear shaped in the middle.
“For Lynnie to make that putt on the last and to be level going into singles is massive. I think we are looking forward to tomorrow - it’s tough playing foursomes.”
Torrance believes his side now have the momentum heading into the ten singles matches, where Donaldson will lead out the GB&I team against Fernandez-Castaño.
“This is just a fantastic event and our boys put up a fantastic showing today,” he said. “I think the thing that most impressed me today about my team was the fact that they just kept going, even when things weren’t going their way. It’ll be pretty simple my message to them – same again please tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Olazábal is hoping his side can win the singles session and end Continental Europe’s losing streak that goes back to the inaugural contest in 2000.
He said: “Obviously I want to win this tournament badly; it’s as simple as that. I don’t like the fact that Great Britain and Ireland have won the last six stagings. I don’t like that record at all, so hopefully this group of ten people will be able to put that right tomorrow.”
Saturday morning foursomes
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano & Nicolas Colsaerts v Stephen Gallacher & Paul Lawrie match halved
Joost Luiten & Gregory Bourdy bt Marc Warren & Jamie Donaldson 2&1
Thorbjorn Olesen & Francesco Molinari lost to Scott Jamieson & Chris Wood 2&1
Matteo Manassero & Miguel Angel Jimenez bt Paul Casey & Tommy Fleetwood 1 hole
Saturday afternoon foursomes
Nicolas Colsaerts & Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano lost to Stephen Gallacher & Paul Lawrie 2&1
Mikko Ilonen & Thomas Bjorn lost to Jamie Donaldson & Marc Warren 2&1
Gregory Bourdy & Joost Luiten bt Chris Wood & Scott Jamieson 2 holes
Miguel Angel Jimenez & Matteo Manassero lost to David Lynn & Paul Casey 1 hole
1 11H16 Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) V Gonzalo FDEZ-CASTAÑO (ESP) Referee Yannick Terpraut
2 11H28 Paul CASEY (ENG) V Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) Referee Tony Disley
3 11H40 Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG) V Joost LUITEN (NED) Referee Miguel Vidaor
4 11H52 Chris WOOD (ENG) V Thomas BJØRN (DEN) Referee Alain Rathery
5 12H04 Scott JAMIESON (SCO) V Grégory BOURDY (FRA) Referee Mark Litton
6 12h16 Marc WARREN (SCO) V Thorbjørn OLESEN (DEN) Referee Pascal Vincent
7 12h28 Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) V Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) Referee Jacky Audemard
8 12H40 Paul LAWRIE (SCO) V Mikko ILONEN (FIN) Referee Kevin Feeney
9 12h52 David LYNN (ENG) V Miguel Angel JIMÉNEZ (ESP) Referee Jacques Savare
10 13H04 Simon KHAN (ENG) V Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) Referee Gary Butler