Seve Trophy brings pins and needle to North-east

A shame, really, as this matchplay tear-up between Colin Montgomerie's Great Britain and Ireland and Jose Maria Olazabal's Continental Europe is just what the fragile European Tour is screaming out for - something different. Alas, the absence of Luke Donald, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bernhard Langer has hurt this biennial fixture's credibility so much that it will never have its desired reputation as "the Ryder Cup warm-up ".

To be fair, even with the five refuseniks in attendance, this match would have struggled, in world terms, not to be overshadowed by events beginning in Virginia tomorrow where the best of the United States take on the best of the Rest of the World in that unashamed Ryder Cup clone, The Presidents Cup. After all, the prospect of the deciding singles being between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh makes the blood pressure hurtle far quicker than the equivalent here - er, Padraig Harrington versus Thomas Bjorn.

Nevertheless, that is not to dismiss this showdown in Tony Blair's constituency as some meaningless "exhibition" match between 10 millionaires who will earn £90,000 a man when they win and another 10 who will be consoled by £50,000 each in defeat. It is anything but. Get through the interminable opening two days' play - which the organisers have inexplicably filled with 10 fourball matches, easily the most boring format in golf - and by Saturday's alternate-shots encounters and Sunday's quickfire singles, some real needle will doubtless emerge from this veritable haystack of euros.

There is history between the two teams and not merely the 2-1 advantage to Montgomerie's men since the Trophy's imaginative inception in 2000. The last match ended in the sort of controversy to make Justin Leonard blush when Olazabal and Harrington were involved in a verbal ding-dong after the Dubliner accused his opponent of repairing marks on the green before the referee had inspected them. The tension could have been cut with a two-iron and gave the proceedings a Brookline feel.

"We managed to clarify the situation a few weeks later," said Olazabal yesterday, not sounding altogether clarified. "I was not a happy camper and made it clear."

Probably not quite as clear as the man who handed him this year's captaincy. It wouldn't be the Seve Trophy without Mr Ballesteros and it was a delight to see the eponymous hero in yesterday's pro-am after a near two-year battle with back trouble and even more of a delight to hear him as he geared up for his competitive return in next month's Madrid Open. "I played some great shots out there," said the 48-year-old. "What result would please me in Madrid? Winning, of course. I think it very possible."

What Olly and Monty would give for their players to have such self-belief.

Draw and tee-off times for the opening fourballs in the Seve Trophy (The Wynyard) (GB and Ireland names first): 10.35 Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty v Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson. 10.50 Colin Montgomerie and Graeme McDowell v Maarten Lafeber and Emanuele Canonica. 11.05 Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge v Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal. 11.20 David Howell and Paul Casey v Niclas Fasth and Peter Hanson. 11.35 Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington v Jean-Francois Remesy and Thomas Levet

l Michelle Wie is expected to turn professional next week and will make her debut on her 16th birthday at the Samsung World Challenge in Palm Springs, California, next month.

Seve Trophy teams

GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND

Colin Montgomerie (Scotland, capt)

Paul Casey (England)

Stephen Dodd (Wales)

Nick Dougherty (England)

Bradley Dredge (Wales)

David Howell (England)

Paul McGinley (Ireland)

Padraig Harrington (Ireland)

Graeme McDowell (N Ire)

Ian Poulter (England)

CONTINENTAL EUROPE

Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain, capt)

Thomas Bjorn (Denmark)

Emanuele Canonica (Italy)

Niclas Fasth (Sweden)

Peter Hanson (Sweden)

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain)

Maarten Lafeber (Neths)

Thomas Levet (France)

Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

Jean-François Remesy (Fr)

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'