The Spanish team of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal shot an impressive 9-under 63 on Friday at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup of Golf. The score in the difficult foursomes (alternate-shot) format gave the Spaniards a four-stroke lead over Australia and day-one leader Germany, who were tied at 131 after 36 holes.
Spain’s 17-under 127 through 36 holes gives them a dominant lead in the tournament which historically, has favoured teams who play well in foursomes, where scores are typically higher. Saturday returns to fourball with foursomes on Sunday.
The Spanish team missed the foursome record of 10-under, set by Argentina in 2005, by a single stroke.
Larrazabal, the 25-year-old 2008 European Tour rookie of the year, was thrilled by the result but cautious about expressing too much optimism saying, “That’s a great round for foursomes, but tomorrow will be another day.” His partner Jimenez, smoking his trademark cigar, added, “Foursomes are the kind of thing that are very sensitive. You need to be nice and not competitive with your partner. That’s what happened today. When Pablo it well from the tee, I put it in close and he holed the putt and vice versa.”
Pre-tournament favourites Sweden shot a 5-under 67 for the day and are fives strokes behind the leaders. The United States (69) and Ireland (68) were a stroke behind Sweden.
Spain has won the World Cup four times, twice with Seve Ballesteros in 1976 and 1977. Spain last won in 1984 with Jose Maria Canizares and Jose Rivero. The Spanish golfers hope to add to the glory of an outstanding year in sport for their countrymen: Spain just won the Davis Cup and earlier in the year, its football team won the European championship.
While the Spanish are enjoying a solid lead, results can turn quickly at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup as Friday’s leaderboard showed: Spain picked up six strokes on first round leader Germany in a single day and with two full days of golf left and with 24 of the 28 teams playing under par after 36 holes, the tournament is far from decided.
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