Oceanico to sponsor Seve Trophy

By Brian Keogh

Property giant Oceânico has stepped in to sponsor the Seve Trophy at The Heritage in Co Laois.

But Ireland is struggling to have more than one player in Nick Faldo's ten-man Great Britain and Ireland side for the biennial matches from September 27-30.

Players such as Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Graeme McDowell are currently outside the eight automatic spots available from the world rankings and the European Tour money list.

And that means they may have to rely on a captain's pick from Faldo, Europe's next Ryder Cup skipper, if they fail to make the grade.

Harrington, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Justin Rose lead the way in the world rankings with Welshman Bradley Dredge and English trio Nick Dougherty, Lee Westwood and Simon Dyson completing the automatic picks through the European Tour order of merit.

Oceânico has major interests in Portugal and is owned by Drogheda-born Gerry Fagan and Englishman Andrew Burgess.

Earlier this year the company acquired all five courses at Vilamoura from Lusotour Golfes in a deal worth €125 million and signed Ulsterman Clarke to represent the courses as its touring professional.

Burgess said: "Oceânico is proud to be associated with an event that features so many of Europe’s best and most famous golfers going head to head.

"The Seve Trophy produces the kind of golf that thrilled Irish crowds and television viewers at last year’s Ryder Cup and we expect to see another great contest that highlights the quality in European golf."

Tom Keane, owner of the Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, added: "Oceânico has an excellent reputation in the world of golf development and we look forward to working together to make this year’s Seve Trophy a very special event for both Ireland and Europe."

Europe has remained undefeated in Ryder Cup matches since the Seve Trophy was first played in 2000, with many European rookies cutting their teeth on team matchplay at Seve Trophy events.

And Spanish superstar Ballesteros believes Ireland's golf-mad fans can inspire Europe to a fourth Ryder Cup win on the trot.

Ballesteros said: "Irish golf fans already had a great reputation for their tremendous enthusiasm for the game of golf, but the first ever Ryder Cup played in Ireland proved just how supportive they are of our players.

"Players on both sides of the Seve Trophy 2007 teams will be among those who qualify for the next Ryder Cup team and Irish fans can really inspire them to go on and make it four wins in a row."

Great Britain & Ireland lead 3-1 in the series of contests that have been played at Sunningdale (2000), Druids Glen (2002), El Saler, Valencia (2003) and The Wynyard, North East England (2005).

Co-designed by Ballesteros and Jeff Howes, The Heritage will also host the Seve Trophy in 2009.

Seve Trophy Qualifying
(Top four from World rankings and Order of Merit plus two captain's picks)
Great Britain and Ireland
Captain: Nick Faldo
World Ranking
*Luke Donald (9) ENG 5.28
*Padraig Harrington (10) IRL 5.05
*Paul Casey (16) ENG 4.43
*Justin Rose (18) ENG 3.85
Ian Poulter (31) ENG 2.89
David Howell (38) ENG 2.62
Colin Montgomerie (45) SCO 2.34
Lee Westwood (47) ENG 2.33

Order of Merit Qualifying
Justin Rose ENG 1172940.84
Paul Casey ENG 1039298.00
Padraig Harrington IRL 939000.97
*Bradley Dredge WAL 607760.34
*Nick Dougherty ENG 528957.99
*Lee Westwood ENG 493661.46
Luke Donald ENG 446581.21
*Simon Dyson ENG 409610.38
Colin Montgomerie SCO 370902.90
Graeme McDowell NIR 344639.71

Continental Europe
Captain Seve Ballesteros
World Rankings
*Henrik Stenson (7) SWE 5.93
*Sergio Garcia (12) ESP 4.86
*Niclas Fasth (28) SWE 3.05
*José Maria Olazábal (32) ESP 2.86
Robert Karlsson (36) SWE 2.74
Anders Hansen (50) DEN 2.30
Miguel Angel Jiménez (60) ESP 2.12
Raphaël Jacquelin (62) FRA 2.10

Order of Merit
Henrik Stenson SWE 1710187.96
Niclas Fasth SWE 763039.54
*Raphaël Jacquelin FRA 756989.03
*Anders Hansen DEN 754280.03
*Markus Brier AUT 602488.26
*Miguel Angel Jiménez ESP 593474.56
Søren Kjeldsen DEN 455199.24
Sergio Garcia ESP 399792.47
Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño ESP 398201.08
Robert Karlsson SWE 362749.69