Seve Ballesteros, former Ryder Cup player and victorious captain of 1997, has backed Europe to defend the famous trophy.

The Spaniard led Europe to a 14.5-13.5 win at Valderrama and expects the contest to be just as close this time around but stresses that a lot depends on Nick Faldo’s captaincy.

“At the height of his playing career he was very much a loner who got on with the business of winning. Now he must be the opposite and unite his team,” Seve said.

But Ballesteros has backed Faldo’s wildcard picks: “Many people were calling for Darren Clarke… by going for Poulter and Casey, Faldo showed he is his own man, prepared to make what he thought was the right, not just the most popular decision, which I think is a good sign.”

Seve thinks his clashes with Paul Azinger in his playing days show that the US team have an inspirational captain.

“He is playing mind games saying Europe are so strong… he is trying to make Europe over-confident, and that is a real danger.

“I had some clashes with him about gamesmanship and rules in 1989 and 1991. He showed then that he was as determined to win as I was.”

Ballesteros, who won or retained the cup four times as a player, also feels the absence of world number one Tiger Woods can only help the European team.

“Whether Woods will be a loss to the US team has been the subject of much debate. I think losing the best player in the world can only be a disadvantage.”

– Seve Ballesteros writing on www.laureus.com