Europe take first-day Seve Trophy honours

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KILLENARD, Ireland, Sep 28 (Reuters) Europe took the honours 3-2 over Britain and Ireland opening fourballs day of the Seve Trophy.

Only a swinging 20-foot putt by Britain and Ireland's Graeme Storm on the 18th green prevented an even greater margin for Continental Europe as both the highest world-ranked players, Justin Rose and Paul Casey, suffered defeat yesterday.

World number 22 Casey missed last week's British Masters in order to sharpen up his game but the Englishman, who was second on Europe's 2006 money-list, failed to benefit from his practice, finding water at the second, fourth and sixth holes.

Casey's errors came on the way to a 4 and 3 defeat for him and playing partner Simon Dyson, one of captain Nick Faldo's wild cards, by Frenchmen Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret.

After finding hazards for a third time, Faldo felt forced to give Casey a lesson.

''He gave me a tip and it helped really, because he noticed exactly what my problem is -- getting stuck on the way back in my swing,'' Casey told reporters.

''There are three or four things I do wrong with my swing, they've always been my faults. It wasn't so bad on the back nine.

''Being 3-2 down, though, will get us fired up,'' added Casey.

Rose, ranked 13th in the world, admitted to a ''a poor start''.

He and fellow Englishman Oliver Wilson struggled to a 3 and 2 defeat to Austrian Markus Brier and Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

Ilonen called his partnership with Brier a good mix. ''I've never seen Markus miss a fairway and I've only seen him miss one now,'' Ilonen, twice a winner on the European Tour this year, told reporters.

Swede Robert Karlsson chipped in at the opening hole for the event's first telling blow and went on to pick up five birdies in the first seven holes as he and compatriot Peter Hanson comfortably had the better of former Britain and Ireland captain Colin Montgomerie and wild card Marc Warren, 3 and 1.

Welshman Bradley Dredge and England's Phillip Archer hit back for the home side by defeating Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and one of Seve Ballesteros's wild cards, Gonzalo Fernandez Castano, 2 and 1.

Then Storm eased Britain and Ireland's woes with his last-ditch birdie, earning a one-hole victory for himself and fellow Englishman Nick Dougherty over the second of Ballesteros's wild cards, Thomas Bjorn and fellow Dane Soren Hansen.

The opening day had a poor gallery, with only around 300 spectators watching the final match home. Organisers put the poor attendance down to the absence of Irishmen in the Britain and Ireland line-up and the nearby National Ploughing Championships at Tullamore, which attracted some 80,000 visitors.

REUTERS BJR BD1030

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