THE European Tour's galaxy of stars are locked in battle to secure a berth in this year's Seve Trophy to be held at The Wynyard Club in Tees Valley.

Some of the biggest names in golf - such as Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke - are leading the race to line up at The Wynyard between September 22 and 25.

With the European Tour stepping up a pace in the past few weeks, Hartlepool's Graeme Storm is on the fringe of qualification for the Great Britain and Ireland side after an encouraging start to the season.

His tie for 14th at last week's Carlsberg Malaysian Open and top-ten finishes at the Dunhill Championship and South African Airways Open have seen him rack up qualification points for the Seve Trophy. He currently lies two places off the automatic spots for Colin Montgomerie's team.

Swede Niclas Fasth thrust himself firmly into the reckoning for the event by pipping England's Miles Tunnicliff to the Holden New Zealand Open title after a sudden-death play off win in Auckland.

Fasth's final-round 63 and subsequent sudden-death victory has catapulted him to the head of the European Tour Order of Merit points table, whose leaders are eligible to qualify for the Continental Europe side to be captained by Seve Ballesteros.

Tunnicliff's battling runners-up placing has pushed him into the fray for the Great Britain and Ireland side.

Qualification for the Seve Trophy 2005 operates on a system similar to the Ryder Cup, with players accumulating points for performance during the course of the season and the final positions to be confirmed after the Linde German Masters on September 11. Players challenging for places on the prestigious Seve Trophy teams will change as fortunes fluctuate during the Tour season.

The leading four players from the official World Golf Rankings and leading four from the European Tour Order of Merit - who haven't otherwise qualified via the world rankings - will be joined at The Wynyard by team captains Ballesteros and Montogomerie, who will each have one wild card selection for the final place to complete their ten-man teams.

Ballesteros said: "The competition for places at The Wynyard is fierce.

"As well as the more established Tour stars, it is good to see younger players like Nick Dougherty moving into contention for the Great Britain and Ireland team after his first tournament win in Singapore."