WITH the North-East in the grip of film fever following the premiere of Newcastle-based production "Goal", Colin Montgomerie will call upon his "Hollywood pairing" of Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty to start the Seve Trophy with a bang.

The Great Britain & Ireland captain will partner rookie Graeme McDowell in the opening day's second fourball at The Wynyard Club but, by the time he takes to the tee, the home side's most flamboyant pairing will already have cleared the opening green.

Poulter, who is as famous for his exotic fashion as his golfing prowess, will partner 23-year-old prodigy Dougherty in a line-up sure to excite the North-East fans.

But, as well as providing entertainment, Montgomerie is also hoping his opening pairing provide a valuable point to kick-start the British team's defence of their trophy.

"I thought I'd set up my fourballs in a country-type way, so it was obvious that I had to go with Hollywood going out first," joked the Scotsman, who limbered up alongside Alan Shearer and Steve Harmison in a star-studded Pro-Am on the Tees Valley course yesterday.

"I don't want them hanging around any longer than they have to. The longer they wait, the more their hair gel gets messed up, so to get them out there first has to be the right thing to do.

"It's most important to try to build a lead and that will be our goal. I'd like to think we could be going into the singles on Sunday with a lead but, to do that, we're going to have to start strongly over the first couple of days."

Poulter, who won three of his five matches during his previous outing in the Seve Trophy, has developed a reputation for performing under pressure.

He was part of the European Ryder Cup team that trounced the Americans at Oakland Hills last September and also held off the challenge of Sergio Garcia in a sudden-death play-off to decide the outcome of last autumn's Volvo Masters.

Dougherty is not so experienced at the highest level, but the 23-year-old proved his matchplay ability by helping Great Britain & Ireland lift the Walker Cup in 2001 and held his nerve impressively when claiming his maiden European Tour victory in Singapore this year.

This week's competition offers an opportunity for the Lancastrian to force himself into the reckoning for next year's Ryder Cup and, with thoughts inevitably starting to turn to the biennial contest, he will not be the only player hoping to attract the attention of European skipper Ian Woosnam over the next four days.

"This tournament stands on its own two feet and I don't want to talk about the Ryder Cup too much," said Montgomerie. "But it is a definite stepping stone.

"There are 20 players here who are effectively in a Ryder Cup squad and you can't make the final 12 if you're not in the squad.

"I'm not saying it's a closed shop or anything like that. But you've got Darren (Clarke), Luke (Donald), Lee (Westwood) and Sergio (Garcia) that you'd think would be definites, and then the other eight would quite possibly come from these 20 players."

This week's competition does not have the same intensity as the Ryder Cup but, with Great Britain & Ireland having won the last two tournaments, there is a clear determination to prevent the Seve Trophy slipping into continental hands.

The opposing players might play alongside each other for 51 weeks of the year but, for the next four days, the rivalry will be both fierce and heartfelt.

"I think we are all very competitive people," explained Montgomerie. "That's why we're in this position and professional pride will feature in a huge way.

"The team environment means no-one wants to let their team-mates down and the intensity is stronger as a result.

"None of us love to lose and, while the two sides will mix after the game is finished, when we're on the course, it's all on."

As skipper of the Continental Europe side, Jose Maria Olazabal shares his opposite number's enthusiasm, although he denies he has a Hollywood pairing of his own to call upon.

Montgomerie jokingly suggested Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jiminez fitted the bill - "It would be a pretty B-rate movie if we did," was the Spaniard's quickfire response - but the European captain's form could yet prove a crucial factor in this week's tournament.

After a lengthy spell in the doldrums, Olazabal has rediscovered his form this season with a third-place finish in the Open underlining his enduring ability.

"It has been a lovely year compared with the last two I have had," said the two-time US Masters champion. "It's nice to be in contention on the last day every now and then.

"I really worked hard last winter to get back to form and it's been a pretty strong season. Obviously I'm missing a victory, but I'm still working hard at it and hopefully it will come."

It could come later this week, with Olazabal predicting plenty of upsets before the destination of the Seve Trophy is decided.

"I've had plenty of experiences where you thought you had a match won on paper and your opponents play their socks off to upset the odds," he said.

"I think it's going to be a close competition and it's difficult to predict what's going to happen.

"All I would say is that, with the fourball format for the opening day, there's going to be plenty of birdies. Whatever happens, it should be exciting to watch."