Britain, Ireland cap Vivendi Trophy rout

Updated: September 27, 2009, 11:55 AM ET
Reuters

VERSAILLES, France -- Britain and Ireland won their fifth successive Vivendi Trophy on Sunday with Continental Europe's rally proving in vain.

In a thrilling finale, Paul McGinley's team took the match 16½ to 11½ but lost the singles 6-4 to Thomas Bjorn's continentals.

After dominating the first three days, Britain and Ireland needed only two wins from the 10 singles.

When Anthony Wall pulled out suffering an injured shoulder and shared a point with Spain's Alvaro Quiros, it was only 1½ points.

The trophy was secured in the first two matches when Rory McIlroy edged a pulsating match with world No. 5 Henrik Stenson of Sweden by one hole and Graeme McDowell took care of last year's European No. 1 Robert Karlsson of Sweden 3 and 2.

In the first match, McIlroy collected an eagle and five birdies to Stenson's eagle and four birdies but it was a double-bogey by the Swede on the penultimate hole that handed the match to the Briton.

Both players smashed into trees on the 17th but Stenson then hit his second shot into the heavy rough, to allow his 20-year-old opponent to go ahead. Both made pars at the 18th, McIlroy sinking a nervy 4-footer for the win.

"I'd be lying if I said my hands weren't a little shaky over the putt on the last," McIlroy told reporters. "It was a great result for the team because of what was happening behind and good to put the point on the board."

Stenson, admitted to "fighting my swing all week" but paid tribute to McIlroy.

"He just keeps improving and I fully expect him to be in the Ryder Cup squad next year," Stenson said. "In fact, when he holed a 30-footer I told him I wouldn't mind playing with him next October if he keeps rolling them in like that."

McDowell was never behind against Karlsson, who was playing his first tournament for nearly five months after retinal problems. Although Karlsson got it back to only one down after 14, errors by the Swede cost him any chance of recovering the deficit.

Continental Europe rallied during McDowell and McIlroy's matches and were winning all the remaining ties before running out of steam.

"The more blue [of the continentals] I saw on the board I thought 'this is going to be more important than we thought, let's get the job done,' " McDowell said.

"And thankfully I did."

Bjorn had instructed his team to "play for your pride" and it responded determinedly, none more so than Dane Anders Hansen.

The former European PGA champion ran up a staggering 10 birdies in 12 holes to crush Englishman Nick Dougherty 7 and 6.

Englishman Robert Rock earned the only other Britain and Ireland point by defeating Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano by one hole. Chris Wood of England, with the week's best record of 4½ points, gained a half with Swede Peter Hanson.

Seve Ballesteros, the five-time major champion who created the tournament, recovering from brain tumor surgery, was unable to attend the closing ceremony but congratulated the teams via a television broadcast.

"I just finished my radiotherapy. Hopefully I should be OK in about one month," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing you on the seventh edition of the Seve Trophy in two years' time."

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