Seve Ballesteros, one of the toughest match-players the golfing world has seen, launched his own trophy competition in 2000 to give those who had followed him into the European Ryder Cup team valuable practice for the biennial match against their American rivals. Now renamed the Vivendi Trophy, the tournament is threatening to become as big a mis-match as the Ryder Cup was before Britain and Ireland asked the continental Europeans to give them a helping hand in 1979.
Team Europe have since enjoyed a fair degree of success against Uncle Sam's boys but those based outside the British Isles are struggling to make an impact in the Seve Trophy, having lost for the fifth successive occasion late on Sunday evening. Seven of the 10 singles matches were still on at the Saint-Nom-la-Breteche course near Paris when victory was secured by Britain and Ireland. Europe took five of those remaining dead rubbers to give the margin a semblance of respectability at 16 ½-11 ½ but the competition was not the most valuable of preparations for the forthcoming clash with the United States at Celtic Manor next year.
Rory McIlroy, the young Irishman who beat the experienced Swede Henrik Stenson in the top singles match, is emerging as a serious contender for Colin Montgomerie's European team for that encounter and confessed that he will now be disappointed if he fails to make the 12-man team. Graeme McDowell, his Ulster compatriot, who had the satisfaction of securing the match-clinching point on Sunday by beating last year's order of merit winner Robert Karlsson, is also looking a strong contender for that team.
England's Chris Wood is also staking a claim. He had the chance to become the first player to win all his five rubbers in the Vivendi, and might have done it had he not settled for a half by conceding a six-footer to Sweden's Peter Hanson on the last home of the academic final game. firstname.lastname@example.org