Swedes shine amid sparse crowd to give Seve the edge

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie last night made an appeal for Ireland's farming community to switch their attentions from the National Ploughing Championship to the Seve Trophy at the nearby Heritage course.

While a crowd in excess of 80,000 were at one of Europe's biggest agricultural shows, only a tiny fraction of that figure watched Nick Faldo's Britain and Ireland – a team with no Irish players in it – lose the opening fourballs 3-2 to Continental Europe.

"The sooner they finish the better – they can come round and support us," said Montgomerie after he and fellow Scot Marc Warren lost the top game three-and-one to Swedish pair Robert Karlsson and Peter Hanson.

"I'm serious," added Montgomerie "The atmosphere is limited. I get that size of crowd in a practice round in the evening and it's a shame.

"It's good quality golf and a great golf course, but we need the farmers to bring their wellies and get over here. This event has all the potential provided everyone shows up."

The Scot, referring to the number of top players eligible but unavailable for one reason or another, said: "Eleven alternates is clearly far too many. Two or three you can get away with."

Faldo's side is lacking Open champion Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, while Ballesteros had seven players turn down the chance to play for him, including top four of Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Niclas Fasth and Anders Hansen.

Nevertheless, they edged the opening exchanges and might have been further ahead but for England's Graeme Storm sinking an 18-foot birdie putt on the final green of the final game. That gave Storm and Nick Dougherty a one-hole victory over Danes Thomas Bjorn and Soren Hansen.

Paul Casey needed his confidence boosting after the way he started. Britain and Ireland's second highest-ranked player behind Justin Rose was in water three times in the first six holes and captain Faldo felt the need to intervene with some swing thoughts at that point.

Some players might not have liked that, mid-match, but although Casey and Simon Dyson went on to lose four and three to Frenchmen Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret, Casey said afterwards: "Not an issue – it was confirmation of a fault I've got. I've three or four things I do wrong in the swing and they will always be my faults. I'm getting stuck on the way back and Nick gave me a tip. On the back nine I started hitting a lot of cuts and hit some very good shots."

Faldo stated: "I think I have a good relationship with Paul. I don't want to jump in, but I could see him struggling and said 'Can I give you my observation?'"

Casey will also have time to work on things in the morning, Faldo having switched two of his pairings for the second series of fourballs. Casey plays with Rose in the bottom game.

Rose and Oliver Wilson lost three and two to Austrian Markus Brier and Finn Mikko Ilonen, but the Welsh-English pair of Bradley Dredge and Phillip Archer were two and one winners over Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Faldo is, of course, also Europe's Ryder Cup captain next year and in that regard was delighted with what he saw. "What a great day," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there watching players play, swing, putt, prepare – on both sides." Opposite number Ballesteros told Faldo: "You have very good material here for the Ryder Cup."