By Brian Keogh
Nick Faldo got his captaincy career off to a dream start as his Great Britain and Ireland side crushed Continental Europe 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 to retain the Seve Trophy.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup skipper saw his side erase a one-point overnight deficit by hammering Seve Ballesteros’ Continental Europeans 8-2 in the singles for a lob-sided victory at The Heritage.
Faldo came to Ireland looking for an edge that may help him in next year’s clash with the Paul Azinger's United States team at Valhalla in Kentucky.
And he insisted: “I’ve taken everything on board. 'Zing and the American team really want to beat us and I have some really strong opinions on what will make the difference.
“I am going to keep my cards to myself and my team. But I have learned things that really helped me in my career and I want to pass them on to my players.”
Rookie Graeme Storm sent GB&I on their way by thrashing a still out of sorts Thomas Bjorn 6&5.
But the biggest inspiration for Faldo’s side came the night before when Sky Sports pundits predicted that struggling Colin Montgomerie, Casey and Marc Warren would lose the first three matches.
It turned out exactly the other way around as Casey hit seven birdies in 10 holes to beat Raphael Jacquelin 3&2.
Then Montgomerie battled hard to see off Robert Karlsson by one hole and take one point from his four matches.
Casey said: “The boys on Golf Night on Sky TV said we would lose the first three matches, so that was a nice bit of motivation right there.”
While he has six wins and two halves in eight Ryder Cup singles appearances, Montgomerie had won just once on the final day in four previous Seve Trophy matches.
But his win was a timely reminder for Faldo that he could be an asset to Europe at next year’s Ryder Cup in the US.
Monty beamed: “I don’t like to lose. It’s become important for me not to lose singles matches, especially against a very difficult opponent who is ranked ahead of me in the world rankings.
“I managed to hang on and hole putts that I had to hole and I have a record that I am very proud of and would love to continue come September next year.”
Marc Warren - who said he was “raging” after watching “Golf Night” - grabbed a one-hole win over Gregory Havret in the third match to make a mockery of the predictions.
And when Simon Dyson beat Mikko Ilonen 2&1 and Nick Dougherty halved with Soren Hansen, Great Britain and Ireland led needed just half a point to gain the 14 1/2 needed for their fourth victory in a row.
The week’s top scorer, Bradley Dredge, effectively clinched the winning point when he birdied the 16th to go dormie two against Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and eventually won by two holes
But the honour of clinching 14 1/2 points fell to another rookie, Phillip Archer, as he won the 18th with a bogey to halve with Austria’s Markus Brier.
Peter Hanson got Continental Europe’s lone singles victory with a one-hole win over Oliver Wilson while in the anchor match Justin Rose was five up after 10 holes against Miguel Angel Jimenez as he won 2&1.
A disappointed Seve said: “When I saw the singles draw I thought it was perfect. But it was like Man United and Chelsea in football and one of the teams lost 5-0. It happens from time to time.”
Despite the lack of Irish involvement, crowds on the final day were healthy and the matches look likely to return to The Heritage in 2008 though Ballesteros insisted that the final decision remains with the European Tour.
Seve Trophy scoreboard
(Great Britain and Ireland names first)
Match: GB&I 16.5, Continental Europe 11.5.
Singles: Colin Montgomerie bt Robert Karlsson 2&1;
Paul Casey bt Raphael Jacquelin 3&2;
Marc Warren bt Gregory Havret 1 hole;
Nick Dougherty halved with Soren Hansen;
Graeme Storm bt Thomas Bjorn 6&5;
Simon Dyson bt Mikko Ilonen 2&1;
Phillip Archer halved with Markus Brier;
Bradley Dredge bt Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 2 holes;
Oliver Wilson lost to Peter Hanson 1 hole;
Justin Rose bt Miguel Angel Jimenez 2&1.
Singles result: GB&I 8, Continental Europe 2.