THE North-East is expected to cash in to the tune of millions of pounds as it stages a golf event anticipated to attract worldwide interest.

The 2005 Seve Trophy at The Wynyard Club, near Billingham, Teesside, sees a Great Britain and Ireland side, led by Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie, take on a European team captained by Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal.

The four-day tournament, which starts tomorrow, has attracted some of golf's biggest names and is prefaced by a star-studded pro-am starting today.

Live television coverage will be provided by Sky Sports, while highlights from the event will be beamed around the world courtesy of the ESPN sports channel, in the US, and European-based Canal Plus.

Up to 100 journalists, many from overseas, will be catered for in a standalone media centre and a tented village has also been created on the site.

The successful bid to bring the Seve Trophy to Wynyard was put together by the Wynyard Partnership, which includes The Wynyard Golf Club itself, Tees Valley Regeneration, Stockton Borough Council and the Tees Valley Partnership.

John Lowther, chief executive of the Tees Valley Partnership, said: "Staging this tournament is very important for our area and the rest of the North-East, not simply in terms of the direct benefits but in the boost it gives both to our local sense of pride and confidence... and in raising our image right across Europe.

"I'm sure that there will be huge spin-offs for our tourism sector, which already employs many thousands of people and is growing in strength and importance all the time.

"It's not just a question of the competition itself but the opportunities which will hopefully be created for attracting other major sporting events."

Gordon Arnott, a spokesman for regional development agency One NorthEast, said: "We expect it will generate somewhere up to £10m for the region's economy and hope to see many thousands of spectators here each day.

"Most hotels and B&Bs in the immediate area are already fully booked up for the duration of the tournament."

It is the fourth time the Seve Trophy - the idea of Seve Ballesteros who hosts it - has been staged since its launch in 2000 and only the second time it has been held in the UK.

John Collard, the event's media director, said: "The North-East has waited for such a long time for a prestigious golf event like this and we felt it would get a big profile in this part of the world and generate a maximum level of interest from spectators.

"The welcome that everybody has had so far here has been very special."