Seve warns Europe: Don't write off US

It would be wrong to underestimate the US Ryder Cup team because of the relatively poor form of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, according to former Europe captain Seve Ballesteros.

Ballesteros, who is recovering from surgery on a brain tumour, led Europe to victory in 1997, and his successor Colin Montgomerie and his team will attempt to wrest the trophy back from the Americans at Celtic Manor in Wales starting tomorrow.

"Tiger Woods has not been doing good this season and neither has Phil Mickelson," Ballesteros said.

"For the public to see the seeming weakness of the US stars could give the wrong idea that things could be easier for the Europeans. That is a mistake. This is matchplay and this format is where anything can happen."

Ballesteros is unable to attend the competition but spoke to the European team by telephone yesterday, an experience Montgomerie said was "very motivational, very passionate, and also very sad".

The Spaniard, who was voted both Europe's best captain this week for his role at Valderrama 13 years ago and the team's best player, played in eight Ryder Cups and was a key figure in the team's development into a trophy-winning force.

He said Montgomerie was the best captain the European team could have.

"He has always been a true leader on and off the course. He knows better than anyone else how to put on him all the pressure and free his players from it," said Ballesteros, 53.

"Despite six rookies on the team, Monty has a very good, competitive and talented group of champions, and I am sure he will take the best options to lead the team and win this year's Ryder Cup. We are in good hands."