Seve spells tension

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The Independent Online

It may look like the Ryder Cup. But there's one big difference - the Americans are missing.

And with Seve Ballesteros in charge, it's bound to be intense.

The inaugural Seve Ballesteros Trophy opens Friday at Sunningdale with the 1997 Ryder Cup captain in charge of the 10-man European team against Colin Montgomerie's Britain-Ireland team.

"I'm not saying it's going to be a war out there, but it's going to be a very tough competition," Ballesteros said Wednesday of the Ryder Cup-style event.

"I'm telling my players we have to beat the British as badly as possible, but in the spirit of good sportsmanship. We won't be conceding many short putts."

The flamboyant Spaniard was the guiding force in Europe's Ryder Cup success for 20 years after decades of being the whipping boys for the dominant Americans.

Ballesteros' last contribution to Europe's effort came in 1997 when he captained the team that won the trophy at Valderrama in Spain. He did not play any part when Europe narrowly lost at Brookline last year.

"You know how much the Ryder Cup always meant to me, how much I put into it when I played," he said. "This is in many ways similar to the Ryder Cup. It's very special and I feel very proud."

Ballesteros said players from the British Isles had been dominant in Europe for many years.

"So that's why we want to beat Colin's team - plus we are playing for honor and money," he said.

Winning team members will receive about dlrs 147,000, the losers dlrs 85,000.

"I don't want anyone to think this will be a bunch of friends coming here to play for the weekend, take the money and go home," Ballesteros said. "No, no, no, no. It is not the same as Europe vs. the U.S. But I tell you what - there will be rivalry."

He said he had introduced a rule that all team members would play at least one match before Sunday's singles. He chastised European captain Mark James for not following that procedure at Brookline.

Jean Van de Velde, Andrew Coltart and Jarmo Sandelin did not play before their Sunday singles at Brookline and all lost on the final day as Europe squandered a 10-6 lead and lost 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.

"Ironically those players had never played in the Ryder Cup and had competed very little in the United States, so the amount of confidence they had going into the singles was zero, in my opinion," Ballesteros said. "It's unfair to go there Monday and not play until Sunday. What kind of confidence can you have? That won't happen in the Seve Ballesteros Trophy."

The teams:

Europe - Seve Ballesteros (captain), Thomas Bjorn, Alex Cejka, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Jarmo Sandelin, Jean Van de Velde.

Britain and Ireland - Colin Montgomerie (captain), John Bickerton, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Davis Howell, Paul Lawrie, Gary Orr, Phillip Price, Lee Westwood, Ian Woosnam.