Seve Trophy: Great Britain & Ireland are value to extend their winning streak

Paul Lawrie has criticised the big names for missing out - but might the Seve Trophy be more exciting with the lesser lights on show?

Our man takes a look at the first of this week's matchplay events, where he fancies Great Britain and Ireland to beat the Continental Europeans once more. Read Steve's preview here...

"The one I like in the Top Continental European Player betting is French debutant, Gregory Bourdy, who knows the venue well. As the only Frenchman in the side, playing in front of his home crowd and fresh off his recent win at the Wales Open, I can see Bourdy doing himself proud this week and he'll be worth a few pounds at anything above 15.014/1."

Tournament History and Format 
First staged in 2000, the Seve Trophy is a biennial tournament between a team from Great Britain and Ireland and one from Continental Europe.  The great man himself led the Continentals to victory at the inaugural event but the GB & I team have dominated ever since.

It's an event that hasn't quite captured the imagination and I don't think it ever will. As Ben Coley points out brilliantly here, the same group of players compete together in the far more prestigious Ryder Cup so how can a genuine and fierce rivalry establish itself at the Seve Trophy? The answer is, it can't.

This event will only ever be a dress rehearsal for the main performance and I think Paul Lawrie's been too harsh with his criticism of fellow Ryder Cuppers, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Mr Matchplay himself, Ian Poulter, over their nonattendance this week.

It may go against the grain but for me, the fact those six have stayed away is a plus. It gives a chance for other players looking to graduate to the Ryder Cup team and it also means we have a competitive event. Would anyone have given the Continentals a chance had Rory et al been in attendance? Anyway, I'll climb down from my soapbox now, here's the format...

With 28 points available in total, 14 ½ points is the target for victory. There will be five fourball matches on Thursday and five on Friday. Saturday sees the teams compete in two sessions of four foursomes and the event will be decided on Sunday via ten singles matches. 

Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Breteche, Paris, France

Course Details
Par 71 -6,983 yards 

Located just 15 miles west of Paris, Saint-Nom-la-Breteche, is a short tree-lined, undulating course with sloping greens. The fairways are of average width and the greens should run at around 11 on the stimpmeter.

Water is in play on six holes and it's a venue where accuracy will win over power. It's a pretty course that's very easy on the eye and it makes for a great venue for a relaxed event like this.

TV Coverage
Live on Sky all four days, starting at 10.30am on Thursday.

Previous Results 
2011 GB & I (15.5 - 12.5)
2009 GB & I (16.5 - 11.5) 
2007 GB & I (16.5 - 11.5) 
2005 GB & I (16.5 - 11.5) 
2003 GB & I (15 - 13)
2002 GB & I (14.5 - 11.5) 
2000 Continental Europe (13.5 - 12.5) 

Continental Europe Team - captained by Jose Maria Olazabal 
Thomas Bjorn
Gregory Bourdy
Nicolas Colsaerts
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Mikko Ilonen
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Joost Luiten
Matteo Manassero
Francesco Molinari
Thorbjorn Olesen 

Great Britain and Ireland Team - captained by Sam Torrance
Paul Casey
Jamie Donaldson
Stephen Gallacher
Tommy Fleetwood
Scott Jamieson
Simon Khan
Paul Lawrie
David Lynn
Marc Warren
Chris Wood

Outright Market Selection
On paper, the Continental Europeans have the stronger team and in Jose Maria Olazabal, they also have the vastly more experienced captain. The Spaniard was at the helm at the Ryder Cup last year and he also captained CE in this event back in 2005.

My first instinct was to favour the CE team but the more I've looked at the event the more I've swung towards the GB & I side and at anything over 2.56/4, they're the value.

Although they have the better team, the CE players are either not at the best, or they're coming here on the back of a disappointment.

Both Nicolas Colsaerts and Francesco Molinari finished poorly at the Italian Open a fortnight ago and Joost Luiten was desperately disappointing after going three clear during round three at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano hasn't been playing well of late and nor has Matteo Manassero or Thorbjorn Olesen. 

In contrast, Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood both finished inside the top-seven in Scotland and even though they didn't figure at the finish, Jamie Donaldson, Paul Casey, Scott Jamieson and Marc Warren all showed signs of encouragement. 

Donaldson shot the lowest round at Carnoustie on day one, Casey fired an impressive 62 at St Andrews on Saturday, Jamieson played very well after a disappointing 71 at Kingsbarns on day one and Warren hit back-to-back 66s on Friday and Saturday. 

Paul Lawrie hasn't been in tremendous order but he'll certainly be up for it and so will experienced event debutantes Simon Khan and David Lynn.

With their extremely impressive record in the event, the pressure is off to a degree and with the light-hearted joker, David Lynn, in the side the relaxed GB & I team can win again.

Top Continental European Player
Francesco Molinari and Mikko Ilonen are the only two in the team to have won more matches than they've lost at the Seve Trophy but then given the CE's event record that isn't too surprising. Molly's a fair price at anything north of 8.07/1 but the one I like is French debutant, Gregory Bourdy, who knows the venue well. 

As the only Frenchman in the side, playing in front of his home crowd and fresh off his recent win at the Wales Open, I can see Bourdy doing himself proud this week and he'll be worth a few pounds at anything above 15.014/1.

Top GB & I Player
Casey has plenty of match play experience and he has a decent enough record in this event (10-7-0) and Chris Wood fared well in this back in 2009 but Scott Jamieson's the one I like in this market.

He performed brilliantly in the event two years ago, despite not being in great form in the lead up and as already highlighted, after a poor first round, he played well last week. 

In-Running tip
Back the outsiders in the singles matches is my idea of the best in-running plan but make sure you read Paul Krishnamurty's piece on betting on match play before the event kicks off for more pointers on how to best to bet on matchplay events

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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