European Tour

Seve Trophy set to tee off

2013-10-02 14:54
Jose Maria Olazabal (File)

Paris - The ninth rendition of the Seve Trophy tees off on Thursday with Jose Maria Olazabal's European team attempting to end a seven match losing streak against the Sam Torrance captained Britain and Ireland side.

The focus of the four-day matchplay competition will be whether Olazabal can end a slump that dates back to the maiden tournament in 2000 when Severiano Ballesteros captained Europe to victory over Colin Montgomerie's team.

The Spaniard hopes the memory of his late friend and mentor who was one of the founding members of the tournament will provide that same inspiration when the 10-player teams begin four days of packed golfing action at the plush St-Nom-le-Breteche golf club close to Versailles..

"This tournament means a lot to me for reasons that I think everyone knows," said Olazabal in reference to his iconic friend and playing partner who died in 2011 at the age of 54, from brain cancer.

"It is a competition that was very close to Seve's heart and something that meant a lot to him.

"But it won't change the relationship between the players. That is the beauty of this game - we will give everything we have on the course, but once it is over we will shake hands and be friends.

"That's what Seve would have wanted."

Olazabal, who drove the European Ryder Cup team back from the brink of defeat last year during a dramatic last day victory over the United States, has gone with an experienced line-up supplemented with a sprinking of youth

Vice-captains Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez are both multiple Ryder Cup winners, while Italian Francesco Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium were part of Olazabal's victorious team that roared back from 10-4 down in Chicago.

Europe were hit by the injury withdrawal of Sweden's Peter Hanson as Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain gets a late call-up with in-form Gregory Bourdy the lone Frenchman and Mikko Ilonen of Finland, Italy's Matteo Manessero, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Dutchman Joost Luiten completing the line-up.

Much has been said of the absence of the leading British and Irish players as Torrance is forced to blood several rookies, but of one those is not former British Open winner Paul Lawrie who led the criticism towards his absent contemporaries.

Englishman Paul Casey, a veteran Ryder Cup star is joined by compatriots Chris Wood, Tommy Fleetwood, David Lynn and Simon Khan, the latter three set to make their debuts.

Marc Warren, Scott Jamieson and Stephen Gallacher are the three Scottish representatives while Welshman Jamie Donaldson is there and was part of the 2011 winning team.

Those who won't be present, at what is an ideal buildup to next year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, include former world number one Rory McIlroy, Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

"The Seve Trophy I don't quite understand it to be fair and I think it's extremely disappointing that a lot of the guys are not playing," said Scotland's Lawrie.

Torrance also defended the importance of the tournament and what it meant to him to be back for the second time as captain.

"I think anything with the legacy of Seve attached to it, this event is very, very special, so it means a great deal to me to be asked back.

"In some ways it is a stepping stone to The Ryder Cup - a taste of The Ryder Cup, if you like - and that is fantastic for these kids."

Read more on:    seve trophy  |  jose maria olazabal  |  golf

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