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Continental Europe stays on top at Seve Trophy

Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Continental Europe won a pair of fourball matches Friday at the Seve Trophy to take a 5 1/2 - 4 1/2 lead over Great Britain & Ireland into Saturday's foursomes.

The standouts for Continental Europe have been Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who equaled the largest winning margin in the event's history with a 6 & 5 rout of Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher on Friday. During Thursday's fourballs, Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castano, a late replacement for the ailing Peter Hanson, cruised to a 5 & 3 win, helping Continental Europe to a 3 1/2 to 1 1/2 advantage.

GB&I, which has captured the Seve Trophy six straight times, fought back on Friday with three early victories at Saint-Nom-la-Breteche Golf Club.

Paul Casey and Simon Khan provided early momentum with a 3 & 2 win over Continental Europe's Mikko Ilonen and Thorbjorn Olesen, while David Lynn and Scott Jamieson followed with a 1-up triumph over the Italian duo of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero.

Molinari and Manassero appeared to have another Continental Europe victory in their sights, as they held a 2-up lead with five holes to play, but Lynn and Jamieson rallied, tallying birdies at the 14th and 17th to square the match entering the last, where Jamieson drained a 6-foot birdie putt for the comeback win.

"There is just a fraction of disappointment. We let a point go with the Italians; they had the match under control until the very end," said Continental Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who kept his pairing the same over the first two days.

Jamie Donaldson then posted four birdies and an eagle in GB&I's third win of the day, as he and teammate Marc Warren ousted Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez, 4 & 2.

"The golf that was played was beautiful; Jamie Donaldson was 9-under on his own," said GB&I captain Sam Torrance.

Aside from Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castano, the only other duo to notch a win for Continental Europe was Joost Luiten and Gregory Bourdy, who outlasted Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood, 1-up. Luiten and Bourdy nearly squandered a 3-up lead with four holes to play, but they held on for the win when both Fleetwood and Wood missed birdie putts inside 12 feet at the last.

Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castano, who have yet to trail at this event, birdied four of their first six holes Friday, with the latter running home a 10-footer at the sixth to go 4-up.

Lawrie and Gallacher briefly reduced their deficit to three with a birdie at the par-5 seventh, but they would get no closer, as Colsaerts and Fernandez- Castano birdied three of their next four holes, capped by Colsaerts' 15-footer at the 11th, to take a commanding 6-up lead. The Continental Europe standouts then parred two straight to wrap up the convincing victory.

"Overall 3 - 2 is not that bad -- it's pretty much what we've said all along, these guys play great golf, and you have to be on your toes," continued Olazabal.

NOTES: Bjorn and Jimenez lost both of their fourball matches over the first two days ... Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castano's 6 & 5 margin of victory tied the previous mark set by Jimenez and Olazabal, who posted the number on Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie in 2000, and Anthony Wall and Chris Wood, who won by the same margin against Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson in 2009 ... Hanson withdrew from the Seve Trophy on Monday due to a lingering back injury. His replacement, Fernandez-Castano, was 4-5 in his nine Seve Trophy matches prior to this year's event ... The format features a series of five fourball matches on each of the first two days, two sessions of four foursomes on Saturday and 10 singles on the final day.