The official release says that captains Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley have announced strong teams for the Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros, with 12 players from the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking competing at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche Golf Club in Paris from September 24-27.
The reality is that McGinley faces an uphill task following the withdrawal or unavailability of most of his top names. He'll have eight Englishmen and two Irishmen at his disposal but he's short on firepower.
The score before the start - Continental Europe 8, Great Britain and Ireland 4.
While opposite number Bjorn can count on eight of the world's top 50 in Henrik Stenson (5), Robert Karlsson (22), Soren Kjeldsen (32), Miguel Angel Jimenez (38), Soren Hansen (42), Alvaro Quiros (43), Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño (48) and Anders Hansen (50), McGinley "only" has four in Rory McIlroy (24), Ross Fisher (26), Oliver Wilson (45) and Graeme McDowell (46).
The Dubliner would love to have the likes of Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald or Justin Rose but injury, the Tour Championship and apathy has made life tough for him.
Casey is injured while Donald and Harrington have fish to fry elsewhere in Atlanta.
Poulter, Westwood and Rose are simply unavailable, as is Sergio Garcia for the Continentals. Luckily for McGinley, Race to Dubai leader Martin Kaymer is injured and it is an indication of the strength in depth of Bjorn's side that the recently crowned European Masters champion, Alex Noren, failed to qualify. Instead, there is a debut for Italian Francesco Molinari. He's 25th in the Race to Dubai rankings but the last man to make the GB&I side, Anthony Wall, is 42nd.
Björn said: “I have a good bunch of guys and I can sense that they want to go to Paris next week and do a good job. It’s important everyone on the team stands together and gets right behind each other with heart and soul. When you get ten guys together they will not all necessarily be playing great golf, but it’s a question of getting everybody believing and dreaming the same dream and I am confident we can do that.”
Putting a brave face on it, McGinley said officially: “I am going to be captaining some of the most exciting talent in world golf at the moment and that is a challenge in itself. I am looking forward immensely to working with quality players and see where we go. I am very much going into it with an open mind because I have things to learn and I’ve never done it before.”
Early this week, he commented: "That's a red-hot European team."
In total six of Europe’s 2008 Ryder Cup Team will be part of the contest: Søren Hansen, Jiménez, Karlsson, McDowell, Stenson and Wilson.
The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros pits Europe’s leading golfers in a team competition format similar to the one seen at The Ryder Cup. Ten players represent both Continental Europe and Great Britain and Ireland over four days. There will be five fourballs on both Thursday and Friday, four greensomes on Saturday morning, four foursomes on Saturday afternoon and ten singles matches on Sunday.
In total 28 points are available with 14 ½ points required to win. In 2007 Continental Europe led 9 ½ - 8 ½ going into the last day, but Great Britain and Ireland won the singles 8-2 for a decisive 16 ½ - 11 ½ victory. Continental Europe won the inaugural event in 2000 but Great Britain and Ireland have won each of the four subsequent matches in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Britain and Ireland - Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson, Graeme McDowell, Chris Wood, Simon Dyson, Robert Rock, Nick Dougherty, Steve Webster, Anthony Wall.
Continental Europe - Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Soren Kjeldsen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Soren Hansen, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Alvaro Quiros, Peter Hanson, Anders Hansen, Francesco Molinari.