Paul McGinley said today there was a “75-25” chance of Seve Ballesteros flying to Paris this weekend and being present at a European Tour event for the first time since the discovery of a brain tumour last October.
What used to be called the Seve Trophy is now named the Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros, and Ireland and Britain captain McGinley said that nothing could lift the match against Continental Europe more than to have the Spanish superstar in attendance.
But even if he does not feel well enough after his recent bout of radiotherapy, Ballesteros’ impact has already been felt.
A message sent to the 20 players was read out to them by McGinley, who said: “It’s quite an emotional letter and there was a lot of thought that went into it.
“A lot of points he made were not just about golf, but about life and the position we hold in life – how lucky we are to be who we are and doing what we are doing - and to enjoy it because time flies very quickly.
“If you can bring his spirit into the team I think that’s all I want to add to the week. Inspiration was the word.
“He’s a special person and has done a huge amount for the European Tour as everybody knows. He wants to leave a legacy and the Seve Trophy is something that he really believes in.
“I spoke to him twice last week and I know he will do everything he can to be here. He said he is playing the toughest tournament of his life – and he also said he will win.”
Thomas Bjorn captains Continental Europe and he added: “I don’t think we can say enough about him as for what he’s done for all of us as players and for the Tour.
“If there is a father figure of this Tour, certainly from a player’s perspective, it lands on his shoulders. And when it comes to team events, there’s not a person that epitomises them more than Seve Ballesteros.”
The bookmakers have Bjorn’s side as favourites because they are lacking only two of their stars – Sergio Garcia and the injured Martin Kaymer.
McGinley is having to make do without six players who could have played. Paul Casey is still recovering from his rib muscle problem – he hopes to return in Scotland next week – and Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald are at the Tour Championship in America, while Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose wanted to rest.
That makes 20-year-old Rory McIlroy their top-ranked player – and he insists he never thought of missing it.
McIlroy, who partners fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell in the opening fourball against Soren Kjeldsen and Alvaro Quiros, stated: "I'm very excited. It’s my first team event as a pro and I’m looking forward to playing under Paul. I was always going to play if I made the team.
“When you get into weeks like this it makes you realise how special team golf is. It’s a lot of fun and you want to do your best for the others as well as yourself.”
That was a far cry, of course, from McIlroy’s comments earlier in the year that the Ryder Cup was an exhibition and not high on his list of priorities.
“My mind was not on team golf then – I was concentrating on my own game,” he said.
It is not hard to identify the Continental player most excited about playing. Last year’s European number one Robert Karlsson finally returns after almost four months out with a blister behind his left retina.
“I’ve played two rounds of golf and hit balls twice I think,” said the Swede. “The rest of the time I spent with family and friends and enjoyed a life that I didn’t know I have.
“I was trusting the doctor who said my career was not in jeopardy, but you never really know. It was quite worrying and when he said I could play I was so happy.”
He partners Henrik Stenson against Chris Wood and Anthony Wall.
“I guess Henrik could be a bit worried,” added Karlsson, who was told his condition might have been stress-related.
No event in golf has the intensity of the Ryder Cup, but Bjorn insists this is not a garden party.
“When you are a continental European there is nothing better than beating Brits!” he said with a smile.