Seve Trophy guide
A preview and best bets for this week's Seve Trophy at Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche in France.
By Dave Tindall Twitter: @DaveTindallgolf
Last Updated: 02/10/13 9:32am
When Continental Europe won the inaugural Seve Trophy at Sunningdale in 2000, it appeared like they'd struck the first blow in what would always be a closely-fought contest.
However, that 13.5-12.5 victory remains their only victory.
GB & Ireland have reeled off six straight wins and often by convincing margins.
Even moving the tournament across the channel hasn't helped the fortunes of Continental Europe.
They lost 15-13 in Valencia in 2003 while they've gone down 16.5-11.5 and 15.5-12.5 in the last two matches - both held at Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche.
The Paris venue plays host for the third straight match this week and the good news for Continental Europe is that they're the clear 8/13 favourites, with GB & Ireland 6/5.
A quick look at the line-ups instantly shows why Sky Bet have taken that stance.
Continental Europe, skippered by Ryder Cup winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal, have plenty of top stars in action while Sam Torrance's GB & Ireland have been severely weakened.
It's tempting to make a list of who won't be in France (busy schedules and proximity to the FedEx Cup are listed as the reasons) but rather than discuss the rights and wrongs of their non-attendance, let's look at who will be battling away to make it seven straight for GB & Ireland.
GB & Ireland: Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher, Tommy Fleetwood, Scott Jamieson, Simon Khan, Paul Lawrie, David Lynn, Marc Warren, Chris Wood.
Continental Europe: Thomas Bjorn, Gregory Bourdy, Nicolas Colsaerts, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Mikko Ilonen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero, Francesco Molinari, Thorbjorn Olesen.
Using Race To Dubai positions as a comparison, GB & Ireland have in their ranks numbers: 19, 20, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30, 39, 59, 104 (average: 37.2).
Continental Europe have: 5, 9, 11, 17, 18, 22, 24, 32, 33, 34 (average 20.5).
As for past Seve Trophy form, the seven Continental Europeans who have played before combine for 33 wins, 48 losses and 10 halves while the six GB & Ireland stars with experience have tallied 23 wins, 19 losses and 6 halves.
That works out as Continental Europe 41.75%, GB & Ireland 54.16%.
In other words, GB & Ireland have blended better down the years.
To be honest, this GB & Ireland team isn't that different to the one which triumphed last time. Two years ago, Continental Europe also held the better Race to Dubai positions (all that team were in the top 25) and looked a more solid outfit on paper but it didn't go to the formbook.
The obvious difference is that this GB & Ireland team don't have Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter in their ranks so it's a question of whether others can step up to the plate.
I've got a sneaking feeling that they can, so with little to choose between the teams take the 6/5 about Torrance and his men.
As for the top points scorer markets, Molinari could prove the best bet for Continental Europe.
Both his appearances have come on this course and he's compiled a winning record of five victories, three losses and a half.
Olazabal won't have forgotten that Molinari secured the half point against Tiger which actually gave Europe victory over the US at Medinah and the Italian also came back to form with some good golf in his home Open a few weeks ago.
He's 13/2 although he's the subject of a Sky Bet Price Boost so can be backed at 15/2.
For GB & Ireland, Chris Wood is the man with the hot blade (always key in matchplay) right now after topping the putting stats when seventh in the Dunhill Links last week.
The Bristolian is chomping at the bit to take part again after enjoying a memorable Seve Trophy debut on this course in 2009.
Woods won all four of his matches in joint combat and then halved his singles to end the week as top scorer for GB & Ireland and he's worth a bet at 13/2 to repeat the feat.
"Great to play team golf under the name of the greatest European golfer," he tweeted on Monday afternoon.
5pts GB & Ireland to win at 6/5
2pts Francesco Molinari to be top Continental points scorer at 15/2 (Price Boost)
2pts Chris Wood to be top GB & Ireland points scorer at 13/2