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Rookies may be decisive in Seve Trophy

Andrew Oldcorn and Paul Caseymight be among the new boys competing in the Seve Trophy in Dublin this weekend, but when it comes to match play they are two of the most successful players on view.

When they represented Britain and Ireland as amateurs rather than professionals they became two of only three players ever to achieve a perfect four wins out of four in the Walker Cup. It happened 16 years apart, Oldcorn at Hoylake in 1983 and Casey at Nairn in 1999. In fact, when Casey did it they were the only two to have accomplished the feat, but half an hour later his foursomes partner Luke Donald joined them.

For Oldcorn - English then, but given Scottish status now - it has been a long wait to play international team golf again. It comes against the Continent of Europe only because Swindon’s David Howell broke his arm jogging and had to drop out of Colin Montgomerie’s line-up.

"I had to pull out of the World Cup in November because of injury, so I know exactly how David is feeling right now," said the 42-year-old, whose career took off with his shock victory in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth last May.

"But, on a personal note, I’m delighted because I had tried hard to make the team automatically before missing out."

He has less happy memories of Druids Glen than he has of match play. Six years ago he needed a closing par 4 to win the Irish Open, but double-bogeyed it to lose by one to Montgomerie.

Casey, twice a winner of the English Amateur Match Play title which Oldcorn captured in 1982, turned professional late in 2000 and had a phenomenally successful rookie season last year.

The 24-year-old from Surrey won the Scottish PGA championship, was second in the Great North Open and was even considered for a Ryder Cup wild card by Sam Torrance.

Winner of more than £500,000, he is one of the rising stars of European golf - yet amazingly, despite being only two years younger than Tiger Woods, he has not played in a single major championship yet.

Now he is guaranteed another £55,000 for his Seve Trophy debut - and another £40,000 on top if the Continental Europe side, captained by Seve Ballesteros, are beaten.

Druids Glen hosts the second running of the three-day event, which Europe won by a single point at Sunningdale two years ago after Ballesteros beat Montgomerie in the last-day singles.

It starts with greensomes and foursomes on Friday, while Saturday sees fourballs and foursomes. The concluding ten singles will be played on Sunday.

The other new boys under Montgomerie’s charge are Dubliner Paul McGinley and England’s Steve Webster, while in the absence of Bernhard Langer and Sergio Garcia Europe also have four debutants in Swedes Niclas Fasth and Mathias Gronberg and Frenchmen Raphael Jacquelin and Thomas Levet. Ryder Cup captain Torrance will be watching with interest, but five of his players for The Belfry are not in attendance - Garcia, Langer, Pierre Fulke, Jesper Parnevik and Phil Price.

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