Friday 19 September 2014

Molinari denies GB and Ireland

Published 06/10/2013 | 12:46

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Continental Europe hero Francesco Molinari of Italy.

Great Britain and Ireland's Simon Khan had to pull out of the Seve Trophy on Sunday with a back injury, with Thomas Bjorn volunteering to step aside for the Continental Europe team at St Nom La Breteche.

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Khan did not feature in Saturday's two foursomes sessions after hurting his back and, despite undergoing physio treatment, was not fit to take his place in the singles competition.

GB and Ireland captain Sam Torrance said on "Simon can't play with an injury. He can't commit to the shot and he is broken-hearted he has had to pull out.

"It is very tough to take. It is really tough for him as he really wanted to play, but if you are injured there is nothing you can do.

An emotional Khan said: "I didn't know I was going to react that way, to be honest. You work your whole carer to come and play in team events. I knew what to expect when I came into this week - how good it would be - and I am desperate to play Ryder Cup one day.

"The week means a lot to everyone here and it means a hell of a lot to me. So not to play in the last day is really hard to take. The main thing now is the team win and I'm going to support them.

"My back wasn't 100 per cent the first two days but it was fine, and I played well the first day.

"Yesterday I felt something go when I hit balls and obviously I had a lot of treatment. I did everything I could last night and had more treatment. But I went to practice and thought it might be okay, but I could barely hit a wedge or a nine iron, let alone something longer. So I had no chance."

Khan's withdrawal meant one of the Continental Europe team was required to miss out, and Bjorn - the second most capped player in the competition's history - selflessly put himself forward in order to give some youngsters the chance to benefit from the experience.

"I feel like I would have found it very difficult if it had been one of the youngsters coming out of that envelope as it would have broken their hearts," the 42-year-old Dane said. "I have played enough team golf to know how this sort of thing (the envelope) works.

"I can deal with this and it is better that I have to, rather than some of the youngsters. These are the facts of it and we will go from there."

Both players were allocated a half point each, changing the overall match score from 9-9 overnight to 9 1/2 each.

Chris Wood, who was scheduled to face Bjorn, moved down the order to play Francesco Molinari in the anchor game.

It looked set to be a tight finish in north-central France, with little between the teams in the early stages of the singles.

GB and Ireland were up in three games, with Continental Europe ahead in four and two all square.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson was one up through 10 against Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the top game, with England's Tommy Fleetwood two up after eight holes against in-form Dutchman Joost Luiten and Scot Marc Warren one up through six against Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen.

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy, Italian Matteo Manassero and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez were all in the driving seats in their respective tussles, though, against Paul Casey, Scott Jamieson, Stephen Gallacher and David Lynn.

Finland's Mikko Ilonen was all square with Scot Paul Lawrie after four holes, with nothing separating Molinari and Wood through two.

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