Captain Jose Maria Olazabal announced an experienced European team to take on Great Britain and Ireland in the Seve Trophy next week while Sam Torrance opted for four rookies as the squads were announced on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who led a remarkable comeback during last year’s Ryder Cup when they defeated the US in Chicago, Illinois, on a dramatic final day, has been given the job of prying the Seve Trophy from Great Britain and Ireland after a run of six straight defeats.
The matchplay tournament, named after Olazabal’s legendary friend and former Ryder Cup partner, Severiano Ballesteros, will be played at the Saint-Nom-la-Breteche golf club just outside Paris for the third straight time between Oct. 3 and Oct. 6. Ballesteros died in 2011 at the age of 54 from brain cancer.
Veterans Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez have been named as Olazabal’s vice captains, while Italian duo Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero are also on the side, as are Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Swede Peter Hanson and Finland’s Mikko Ilonen.
Three players make their debut in the tournament that will be the eighth edition and won only once by the Europeans, when Ballesteros captained the first team in 2000 to victory over Colin Montgomerie’s Great Britain and Ireland team.
In-form Frenchman Gregory Bourdy is to get a taste of the team competition that serves as ideal preparation for next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, while Dutchman Joost Luiten and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen are also included.
“It is a tournament and a competition that was very close to Seve’s heart and we will have to show some of his fighting spirit to win this year and improve on our recent record,” said Olazabal, who captains the team for the second time after losing against Montgomerie in 2005.
“It’s not going to be easy as the Great Britain and Ireland team is also strong and they have dominated in recent years, but I’m looking forward to working with my players and hopefully we can do it,” he said.
Torrance has been deprived of several big names including former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, US Open winners Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, while Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter will also be absent.
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, another member of last year’s historic Ryder Cup team at the so-called ‘Miracle at Medinah,’ is on the side, along with three-time Ryder Cup veteran Paul Casey of England.
Another Englishman, Chris Wood, who was undefeated in his last appearance in 2009, is back for more, while Scotland’s Marc Warren, who was on the winning side in 2007, is also part of the 10-player team.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, who won under current Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley in 2011, will lend experience to the four debutants, with the English trio of Tommy Fleetwood, David Lynn, and Simon Khan joined by Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher in their first taste of the team event.
“I think we have got a good blend of players in the team, and I’m really looking forward to working with all of them,” Torrance said.
“We have a couple of Ryder Cup players in Paul Casey and Paul Lawrie, the latter being an Open Champion, and the debutants are very strong. So we have a lot of experience in the team, as does the Continental Europe Team and it promises to be an exciting contest next week,” he said. “I’ve a few ideas about pairings already, and hopefully we can retain the trophy and make it seven in a row.”