By Brian Keogh
Thomas Bjorn believes that an explosive Seve Trophy atmosphere will toughen up Nick Faldo’s troops for the Ryder Cup.
The Dane, 36, knows that things can get hot and heavy in what is officially a friendly clash between European Tour pals.
Four years ago in Spain, Padraig Harrington annoyed Jose Maria Olazabal by questioning him for repairing a pitch mark.
Then two years ago, Seve Ballesteros irked Ian Poulter by whacking balls on the range as the Englishman tried to putt out nearby.
All in all it promises to be another highly competitive affair as 20 players battle to win the trophy and impress Ryder Cup skipper Nick Faldo.
Bjorn said: “We come here and we all say these are friendly matches. And everybody is very friendly today and they will probably be friendly tomorrow.
“But when it comes down to the weekend, it always seems to get business-like. It always seems to get hard and I think we have seen in the past that there have been incidents where we exactly know how hard and how competitive people are.
“So I think it’s a hard competition but the one thing that this was created for was to prepare us for the Ryder Cup.
“And in all honesty I think it has worked with the way the Ryder Cup team has performed, especially the last two times.
“I don’t think there will be too many big incidents between players. I think everyone realise that we are here with a common goal to prepare ourselves for what is going to happend in a year’s time.”
The first controversy of the week emerged when Paul McGinley withdrew as Faldo’s Ryder Cup vice-captain designate.
And close pal Bjorn fully understands why the Dubliner turned down the chance to come to the Heritage as a backroom boy for Faldo after being snubbed for a wildcard.
The Dane was furious with Ian Woosnam when he was overlooked for a Ryder Cup wildcard last year and was fined by the tour for dubbing the Welshman, “the most pathetic I have ever seen.”
Bjorn said: “I’m a great friend of Paul’s. I would have liked to see him here but I think I learned the hard way if you don’t qualify, the you have no right and that’s the way it is.
“It is a shame that there is not an Irishman on the team, I think everybody wanted that. But I have to say that from Nick’s point of view, Marc Warren and Simon Dyson could very easily be in the Ryder Cup next year.
“I think it is a good opportunity for him to see them up close and spend some time with them. You have got to balance that out as a captain.”