Former Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal will attempt to bring some Medinah magic to the Seve Trophy and lead another European side to a team triumph.
Olazabal captained Europe to a remarkable victory in Chicago last year, the visitors coming from 10-6 down on the final day to retain the trophy.
And now the Spaniard has turned his attention to improving Europe’s woeful record in the biennial contest against Great Britain and Ireland, who have won the past six matches since Europe tasted success in the inaugural clash in 2000.
“Our record is not very good in this event but we are here this week to change that,” said Olazabal, who played under captain Seve Ballesteros in that victory at Sunningdale 13 years ago.
“We are here to win, we have a strong team and that’s our goal this week. We have a little bit of experience in this team, players who have played Ryder Cup, and it is going to be a good match.”
Olazabal opted to send out his most experienced pairing in the first of Thursday’s five fourball matches at St Nom La Breteche, with his Ryder Cup vice-captains Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez leading the way against the Scottish pairing of Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher.
Bjorn has played in all but one of the previous contests – captaining the side instead in 2009 – while Jimenez is the only player to have competed in all seven. They are the two most capped players in the history of the event with a total of 59 matches between them – not to mention a combined age of 91.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen take on the unbeaten Chris Wood – he won four and a half points out of five in 2009 – and debutant Tommy Fleetwood in the second match, with the Italian duo of Matteo Manassero and Francesco Molinari then facing Paul Casey and Simon Khan.
Dutchman Joost Luiten and home favourite Gregory Bourdy, who have both won on the European Tour in the past five weeks, take on Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn in match four, while the final game sees Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano up against Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson.
GB&I captain Sam Torrance, who led Europe to victory in the 2002 Ryder Cup, said: “It is fantastic to be here and an honour to be captain. I’ve got a good, young team that are desperate to get out and get some points.
“The pairings were pretty easy. They were all pretty compatible. I tried to put people I thought were good friends, played practice rounds together, to try to make them feel more comfortable out there and do the job that they do best. It is going to be a great match, exciting, and I think we have a great chance.”
The event takes place over four days, with five fourball matches on Thursday and Friday, two sessions of four foursomes matches on Saturday and 10 singles matches on Sunday. As with the Ryder Cup, a team requires 14 and a half points for victory.