PAUL McGinley last night admitted that he and Padraig Harrington had left the Great Britain & Ireland side in "a hole" following the opening day of the Seve Trophy.

The Irish duo, who combined to beat Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in the foursomes at last year's Ryder Cup, looked like securing at least a half when Harrington's birdie two at the 17th levelled their match with Frenchmen Thomas Levet and Jean-Francois Remesy.

But, with the home side already trailing by two points, Harrington's eight-foot miss on the final green left Continental Europe celebrating the biggest opening-day lead in the history of the competition.

"We have a long way to come back from here," said a downbeat McGinley, who was left pointless, despite his pairing's seven-under-par total of 64. "We are in a hole at the moment.

"Everybody expected us to win our game and, even though the end result was not what we would have wanted, I thought we played well.

"I expected them to play really well and they were really fired up for it. We had everything to lose and they had nothing to lose - maybe that helped them."

While Harrington and McGinley started explosively, the French connection of Levet and Remesy roared back either side of the turn to quickly gain the upper hand.

The duo will be back together this morning when they take on Welshmen Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge and, while they insist they did not ask to be put together, their common nationality is proving to be a considerable help.

"It is easier when you speak the same language," explained Levet, who lost to Ernie Els in a four-hole play-off for the Open Championship in 2002.

"When you communicate it is much more natural.

"You have enough problems on the course facing these guys without not being able to understand each other.

"I thought we played great out there. Jose Maria (Olazabal) told us not to be afraid of playing well, and I don't think we were."

While the final game of the day produced the most exciting golf, yesterday's most exhilarating shots were played in the opening fourball.

Swede Henrik Stenson underlined his status as one of the game's brightest prospects with a series of monster drives that gradually knocked the stuffing out of Colin Montgomerie's "Hollywood pairing" of Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty.

Playing alongside Dane Thomas Bjorn, Stenson's power tore up an inviting Wynyard course and established a lead that Continental Europe rarely looked like relinquishing.

"He was absolutely great to watch," said a beaming Bjorn. "It was the right kind of wind for a few of his big ones and he certainly delivered.

"There is a lot of big hitting on the tour nowadays and you're having to look at the game of golf in a slightly different way.

"But it's no use just hitting the ball hard. The key is to keep the ball under control and Henrik did that very well indeed.

"That is why he is in the team, and that is why he is where he is in terms of racing up the world rankings."