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Change in singles for Seve Trophy

There will be no chance of any "grudge" matches in this week's Seve Trophy at The Wynyard Golf Club following a change in the singles format by captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Continental Europe captain Olazabal and Britain and Ireland skipper Montgomerie have taken steps to ensure that players can no longer opt to face a particular opponent in the last-day singles matches, as was allowed in the past.

The captains were determined to rule out any possibility of grudge matches between players with a history of needle between them, as well as friendly encounters between "old pals".

Olazabal said on Wednesday: "In the past, when players have chosen their matches, you tend to think there might not have quite been the atmosphere we want, to make sure this is a high-profile tournament.

"And also there might have been a bit of bad feeling between two players, you never know, and then we have the wrong scenario altogether."

Montgomerie added: "I felt sometimes it might encourage a grudge match. I didn't want it and I'm sure Jose felt the same."

In line with tradition, however, the two captains will play against each other in Sunday's singles.

Montgomerie played Seve Ballesteros in the first three editions, but Ballesteros handed over the captaincy to Olazabal when he felt he was not fit enough to play this year, thus ending Montgomerie's chance to square their personal series.

Ballesteros is 2-1 up on Montgomerie in their singles encounters, while Britain and Ireland lead the series by the same margin 2-1 margin.

Continental Europe having won the inaugural competition in 2000 at Sunningdale Golf Club in England.

With the two captains playing each other this week, one possible grudge is ruled out.

In the 2003 encounter in Valencia, Olazabal and Ireland's Padraig Harrington were involved in a much-publicised spat after Harrington accused the Spaniard of illegally repairing a pitch mark on the green.

That disagreement was short-lived, though, according to Olazabal.

"I was not a happy camper with what happened that day. I made it clear and that was reasonable and we leave it there," said the twice U.S. Masters champion.

For Thursday's opening fourballs in an event both captains regard as a "stepping-stone to the Ryder Cup", Montgomerie has chosen his "Hollywood" pairing for the first match out -- spiky-haired extroverts Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty.

The English duo will take on Denmark's U.S. PGA Championship runner-up Thomas Bjorn and Swede Henrik Stenson.

Montgomerie has opted to partner Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell in the second match, against the Continental Europe pairing of Dutchman Maarten Lafeber and Italian Emanuele Canonica.

Olazabal teams up with fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez in match three against Welsh duo Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge.

Next out are David Howell and Paul Casey, who pair up in the week that Howell was preferred by Luke Donald as his World Cup partner in preference to Casey. The English Ryder Cup players come up against Swedes Niclas Fasth and Peter Hanson.

Experienced Irishmen Harrington and Paul McGinley, winners of the 1997 World Cup, take on Frenchmen Jean-Francois Remesy and Thomas Levet in the last match out.

Five fourball matches will be played on both Thursday and Friday before four foursomes and four greensomes matches take place on Saturday. The trophy will be decided in Sunday's 10 singles matches.

Ballesteros, who captained his side for the first three editions, maintained he would remain neutral for this week's showdown.

"This week I'm between both teams," he said. "I hope the best team wins. If it is Europe great, if it is Great Britain and Ireland, then it's good, too."

 

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