COLIN MONTGOMERIE has fired up Great Britain and Ireland for the biggest challenge in Seve Trophy history by holding a clear-the-air team meeting at The Wynyard Club.

Continental Europe took a handsome 4-1 lead on the first day in front of nearly 5,000 spectators, and home captain Montgomerie has urged his players to turn the scoreline completely on its head in today's fourballs.

The previous three Seve Trophy contests have gone right to the wire and the Scot is determined to make sure this event follows suit - meaning he receives back-up from the team he has selected.

Only Montgomerie, who set the tone for his own display with an eagle at the first, and rookie playing partner Graeme McDowell managed to return to the clubhouse victorious last night, when they beat Maarten Lafeber and Emanuele Canonica 3&2.

Neither wild card selection Paul Casey, a Ryder Cup hero a year ago, nor Welshman Stephen Dodd managed to record a solitary birdie - a problem the Brits need to resolve if they are to stop the Europeans levelling the series over the weekend.

But, after deciding to stick with the same pairings for the second day, Montgomerie is convinced he heard sufficient from his team afterwards to suggest a memorable comeback could be on the cards.

"We have had a meeting and the doors were closed. We will come out fighting and we will try to come back. It's that simple," said Montgomerie, who led the side in the first three Seve Trophies at Valencia, Druid's Glen and Sunningdale.

"We had a chat about the lack of birdies and let's hope they can remedy the situation. There's an art in rollicking somebody positively and hopefully I have managed it. We'll find out. I'm not very happy.

"Certain things that were going on in there will remain with ourselves. We are all in the same boat. They are very good listeners and they are fired up. There is one big positive to take from the first day: there are 23 matches left."

Britain and Ireland were huge favourites to extend their 2-1 series lead over Europe before the first ball had been struck and their dreadful start was completely unexpected.

Montgomerie rubbished the suggestion of complacency creeping into his team ahead of the first day and is calling for his players to make amends today.

He is hoping his unprecedented decision to keep the same pairings will make them even more determined to close the three-point lead the Europeans hold.

"I was confident at the start about my pairings and we all feel the same way now," said Montgomerie. "The pairings will work better on Friday, I'm sure of that.

"They have played together for two days so they should know each other by now.

"I'm a real believer in not switching everything around. I'm the first person to go 4-1 down and not to switch a thing.

"There's no point sending them out if they are not comfortable playing with each other, but they seem to be."

That means the French connection of Jean-Francois Remesy and Thomas Levet will be competing against Montgomerie's 'Hollywood' pairing of Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty today.

Remesy holed a nine-foot putt at the last to give his team a marginal victory in the final match over Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley yesterday - a score which had huge importance, as the galleries packed the 18th to witness the action unfold.

Montgomerie explained: "The last game could have gone either way and that was a very vital game. If Jean missed his and Padraig holed his then that would have been 3-2. It's that Ryder Cup situation where any game can swing and that's what we saw here.

"I was confident the Irish duo would bring in half a point but it wasn't to be. The Europeans played well and now we have to improve and get on with things."

Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal, experiencing his first Seve Trophy in that role, is not taking success for granted after the first day's play.

He used the example of shooting totally contrasting rounds - a 68 followed by an 86 - in the British Amateur qualifying in 1985 to highlight how things can change in golf.

But he is not taking anything away from his players. "My lads played well and we are pleased but we know that our opponents are going to be ready," said Olazabal, who, with his partner Miguel Angel Jimenez, overcame David Howell and Paul Casey 4&2 yesterday.

"I'm certain that Monty is being truthful when he says he has given them a talking-to and he will be ready. They are sure to be fired up.

"But we have great players. They have proved that through their careers.

"All the boys are taking this seriously. Now we have to turn this performance into the next three days."

Published: ??/??/2004