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Captains keen to get going with tee time drawing close

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie was today set to enjoy "five hours of freedom" as preparations for this weekend's Ryder Cup got under way in earnest at Celtic Manor.

The 12-man teams from Europe and the United States officially assembled at the venue yesterday and were today due for their first practice sessions on the 7,378-yard layout.

And that came as something of a relief for Montgomerie and opposite number Corey Pavin after almost two years of preparation for the 38th biennial contest, with Europe looking to regain the trophy lost last year.

Speaking at the captains' press conference yesterday, Montgomerie said: "I shall look forward to having five hours of freedom, if you like, on the golf course tomorrow morning with our three fourballs on the course, and I look forward to that time.

"This has been (almost) two years in the making since Corey and I were announced as captain back very early in 2009 and this day was a long way away.

"Now it's here and it's very exciting and the anticipation is growing hourly now, as opposed to by the day. Friday can't come quick enough now for us all."

Europe remain firm favourites to record a fourth successive win on home soil, so much so that one bookmaker has already paid out on such an eventuality.

But Montgomerie is expecting a tight contest, adding: "On paper, yes, it's been said we are favourites. Unfortunately the Ryder Cup is not played on paper.

"These matches are very, very close. Even in our record win in Detroit in 2004, 11 matches went up the last hole, seven of which Europe won. We might well be favourites, but I don't see it as much as you guys might. This will be very, very close and very competitive, as they always are."

Montgomerie believes his side will certainly not be lacking in desire to regain the trophy, adding: "If any of my players needed motivation, they shouldn't be here.

"They are highly motivated to win back this Ryder Cup. The opportunity has been given to us and it's our job to now try and take that opportunity and so motivation is not an issue in our camp at all."

Pavin added: "It's been a long time since we won in Europe, since 1993. If there is any motivation, I think that's plenty, but I think everybody wants to win.

"If anything, I have to almost calm down some people, guys are so excited to be here and to play."

That excitement will no doubt be shared by the thousands of spectators expected in the Usk Valley during the week.