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Continental Europe take early Hero Cup lead in Abu Dhabi

Continental Europe take early Hero Cup lead in Abu Dhabi

Great Britain and Ireland fought back well after conceding two early matches in the opening fourballs session of the inaugural Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday

Continental Europe's Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren wait alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry of Great Britain and Ireland ahead of the first Hero Cup fourballs at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Friday Continental Europe's Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren wait alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry of Great Britain and Ireland ahead of the first Hero Cup fourballs at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Friday

Continental Europe showed their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland a trick or two by seizing a 3-2 lead in the opening fourballs of the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren defeated the top pairing on the other side of Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry 1-up in the opening match at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Frenchman Antoine Rozner and Thomas Detry then beat Tyrrell Hatton and Jordan Smith 2-up for a 2-0 lead before two ties and one win for GB&! Trimmed the deficit to one point, the organisers said.

Seamus Power and Robert MacIntyre gave GB&I their only full point by beating Sepp Straka and Adrian Meronk 4&3 in the most one-sided match of the day.

Victor Perez and Guido Migliozzi tied with Callum Shinkwin and Matt Wallace while Continental Europe captain Francesco Molinari and Nicolai Hojgaard tied with Ewen Ferguson and Richard Mansell.

Both tied matches lasted the distance and were only decided on the 18th and final hole, Perez- Migliozzi losing the last hole to concede a half point to Wallace and Shinkwin.

GB&! Were under pressure in the second tied game too till Mansell sank a pressure putt on the last hole to keep Højgaard and rival skipper Molinari at bay.

The display by MacIntyre and Power pleased their skipper, Fleetwood, who said later, “I think it’s been a very good first day. It was very competitive and a lot of good golf was played and it was quite amazing that four of the five matches went down the last hole. That just shows you how tight it is and also the high level of competition.

“Mac and Power both said they loved it and played great golf. It’s different when you are playing in teams and chemistry is probably the most important thing. You can look at all the stats you want, but guys that gel well together and have that chemistry is really important.

“We’ll see what happens the rest of the week, but I am so happy for those guys for putting in a dominant performance like that and, overall, we were the only team that put in a dominant performance like that, so I guess we’ll take that one as a positive."

In the top match, Europe looked like running away as Belgian Pieters and Sweden’s Noren were 3-up on the front nine itself with Pieters playing some great golf.

Fleetwood and Lowry fought back well to win the tenth. Noren then holed two successive clutch putts to keep his team's two-hole advantage.

Fleetwood helped tie the match with wins on holes 14 and 15 before Noren sealed the 1-up decision for Europe with a pressure putt.

"It was a battle for me,” Noren said. “I played some decent golf in the middle but was just happy to get the up-and-down on the last. And Thomas hit some great shots in the end to get it, and the whole front nine he played great. He helped out the most, it was great."

Results - Day 1 fourballs (Europe lead 3-2)

Noren/Pieters (Cont Eur) bt Fleetwood/Lowry (GBI) 1-up

Rozner/Detry (Cont Eur) bt Hatton/Smith (GBI) 2-up

Shinkwin/Wallace (GBI) tied Migliozzi/Perez (Cont Eur)

Ferguson/Mansell (GBI) tied Molinari/Højgaard (Cont Eur)

Macintyre/Power (GBI) bt Meronk/Straka (Cont Eur) 4&3

Published on: Jan 17, 2023, 4:51 PM IST
Posted by: Priya Raghuvanshi, Jan 17, 2023, 4:37 PM IST