Thursday Fourball Draw
Rory McIlroy is delighted to have the chance to represent Great Britain & Ireland in The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros in Paris this week - especially as Paul McGinley is his captain.
The 20 year old will partner Graeme McDowell in the opening fourball match against Søren Kjeldsen and Alvaro Quiros as the British and Irish side seek a fifth consecutive win over Continental Europe, who this time are led by Dane Thomas Björn.
“I'm actually very excited to play this week,” enthused the Dubai Desert Classic winner. “Firstly, because it's going to be my first team event as a professional. And secondly, because I'm really looking forward to playing under Paul McGinley.
“I think he'll be a great captain - he's very passionate. He's very excited about what he's doing this week, very organised.
McIlroy admits that winning The Vivendi Trophy is not the only thing on his mind this week. The presence of Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie ahead of next year’s clash at The Celtic Manor Resort has given the 20 players involved this week an extra reason to want to display their matchplay credentials.
“It's great that Monty is here this week,” he added. “There's a few players here that have played Ryder Cup already that are playing this week. But there's a lot of young guys playing, myself, Chris Wood, Alvaro, there's Nick Dougherty, there's a lot of guys that haven't played a Ryder Cup before that I think will really benefit from this week.”
Robert Karlsson is part of the European side as last year’s leading money winner on The European Tour makes his comeback from an eye injury.
The Swede insists he is fully fit and raring to go, but admits his playing partner for the first fourballs, Henrik Stenson, may have to get him out of trouble if he produces the odd rusty shot against Anthony Wall and Chris Wood.
“I guess Henrik could be a bit worried - I'm not really,” joked Karlsson. “It’s better ball the first couple of days, so I can rest it on Saturday, so it's all right.”
Seve Ballesteros is to make a late decision on whether to attend. The Spanish legend had four life-saving operations after the discovery of a brain tumour last October and is still recovering.
"I was hoping to attend personally but I am feeling very tired at the moment as I have just finished my radiotherapy treatments, which I have been receiving over the past month," said Ballesteros in a statement.
"I will wait until the end of the week to decide if I'm able to attend or not.
"I send the players and captains my best wishes and I hope that they enjoy the spectacular Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche club as much as I did in the past.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all my fans around the world for continuing to send me their best wishes for my recovery. I really miss you all."
The 52 year old wants to return to The Open Championship at St Andrews next July to show his gratitude for all the messages he has received.
GB & Ireland captain McGinley admits that even if he does not feel well enough after after his recent bout of radiotherapy, Ballesteros' impact has already been felt.
A message sent to the 20 players was read out to them by McGinley, who said: "It's quite an emotional letter and there was a lot of thought that went into it. A lot of points he made were not just about golf, but about life and the position we hold in life - how lucky we are to be who we are and doing what we are doing. And to enjoy it because time flies very quickly.
"If you can bring his spirit into the team I think that's all I want to add to the week. Inspiration was the word. He's a special person and has done a huge amount for The European Tour as everybody knows. He wants to leave a legacy and the Seve Trophy is something that he really believes in.
"I spoke to him twice last week and I know he will do everything he can to be here. He said he is playing the toughest tournament of his life - and he also said he will win."
Björn added: "I don't think we can say enough about him as for what he's done for all of us as players and for The Tour. If there is a father figure of this Tour, certainly from a player's perspective, it lands on his shoulders. And when it comes to team events, there's not a person that epitomises them more than Seve Ballesteros."
To view the draw for Thursday's fourballs click here.