Europe off the mark at Seve Trophy

Scots Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren could not stop Swedes Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson winning the first points for Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy at The Heritage, Co. Laois today.

Scots Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren could not stop Swedes Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson winning the first points for Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy at The Heritage, Co. Laois today.

Montgomerie, who this year has handed over the captaincy of the Britain and Ireland team to Nick Faldo, had five birdies on the outward half, but Karlsson matched that and Hanson added two more for a dazzling front nine 29.

That was two up and it became three when Hansen sank a nine-footer on the short 15th. Warren kept the game alive by replying in kind on the next, but when he and Montgomerie could not even par the 225-yard 17th it was time for them to shake hands on a three and one defeat.

Each side led in two of the other four games.

With Paul Casey struggling badly and needing help from Faldo - he was in water three times in the first six holes - he and Simon Dyson trailed Frenchmen Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret by one with six to play and in the bottom game Justin Rose and Oliver Wilson were two down after 11 to Austrian Markus Brier and Finn Mikko Ilonen.

However, Welshman Bradley Dredge and England's Phillip Archer were one up on Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano after 13 and English duo Nick Dougherty and Graeme Storm one up on Danes Thomas Bjorn and Soren Hansen with six to play.

The weather was ideal, but the crowd was not. With no Irish players involved - Padraig Harrington withdrew with fatigue and Paul McGinley failed to qualify and then was not chosen by Faldo - signs approaching the course of 'Traffic Queues Possible' could easily have changed to 'Traffic Queues Unlikely'.

Only around 100 people followed the opening game down the first hole and it was barely that number for the second.

Previews of the contest, which might have boosted the attendance figures, had been overshadowed by the resignation of McGinley as one of Faldo's assistant captains for next year's Ryder Cup.

Although the Dubliner himself and Faldo said it was because he wanted to focus on trying to win a fourth cap as a player - he has not had a top 20 finish for almost a year - people were inevitably left thinking it might have something to do with his non-involvement this week.

It was reported that McGinley was led to believe that he would be given a wild card - he did not make himself available for Ireland's World Cup qualifying trip to Aruba this week - and was then told he was not being given one.

When he was captain Montgomerie always gave his two wild cards to the next highest players on the world rankings. Keeping that policy would have saved Faldo from all the speculation of a snub to McGinley.

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