Ian Poulter has explained his absence from the Vivendi Trophy in Paris this week by saying he wants to avoid burn-out. Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie yesterday criticised Poulter - top-scorer against the Americans last year - for turning down the chance to play for Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe. "I really want to be fresh and strong for all of the Ryder Cup qualifying events that I'm going to play in - the Ryder Cup means everything to me," Poulter told his Twitter followers. "It would have been great to play the Seve Trophy (the old name for the Vivendi Trophy), but the schedule becomes very difficult to play every event - so important not to burn out.
"The Vivendi Trophy will be awesome to highlight some potential new Ryder cup players - Fisher, McIlroy, Kjeldsen, Quiros, Dougherty, Wood etc." Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia also decided not to play, while Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer are injured and Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald are playing in America. Poulter failed to make it to the Tour Championship by one shot and is having a number of weeks off before a busy end-of-year schedule - much of it in the Far East. In the meantime, Graeme McDowell and Anthony Wall both kicked off the Vivendi Trophy with birdie putts for Britain and Ireland in Paris today. Trying to avoid a fifth successive defeat, Continental Europe - the favourites with Paul McGinley's side fell behind in the top two fourballs.
First McDowell, partnering fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, found the target from nearly 25 feet against Spain's Alvaro Quiros and Dane Soren Kjeldsen. Then Wall made a nine-footer to put himself and Chris Wood, both debutants in the match, one up on Swedes Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson. It was the first event since the end of May for last season's European number one Karlsson, who has been battling with a blister behind his left retina. After missing the curtain-raising pro-am with food poisoning, England's Simon Dyson was well enough to take his place alongside Oliver Wilson in the third game against Soren Hansen and Peter Hanson.
Britain and Ireland were very soon up in four and down in only one of the games. McDowell and McIlroy remained one ahead after five, Wall and Wood took the first three holes and Wilson sank winning birdie putts on the first and second greens from 25 and two feet. Robert Rock and Steve Webster did lose the first to Anders Hansen and Francesco Molinari, but Ross Fisher's par four there was good enough for him and Nick Dougherty to take the lead against Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez Castano. * PA Sport