Asia Tops Europe to Win First Royal Trophy
Amata Springs, Bangkok (Thailand) – 11 Jan 2009 – After establishing a five-point advantage after the first two days of the Ryder Cup-style matchplay event, Asia required just two points from the eight singles duels, and they battle a spirited resistance from Europe to secure a first win following defeats in 2006 and 2007.
Open winner Paul Lawrie predicted “a massive future” for the Royal Trophy as he summed up his first experience of the annual shot-out between Asia and Europe.
Lawrie’s performance was one of the few bright spots for a European team that slumped to a 10-6 defeat in Bangkok, their first loss in three Royal Trophy tussles.
The Scottish star, winner of the coveted Claret Jug in 1999, won two of his three matches and halved the other after forming an impressive partnership with fellow Ryder Cup player Soren Hansen of Denmark.
But he admitted finishing unbeaten was scant consolation for another painful European setback, hard on the heels of their shock Ryder Cup defeat against the USA four months earlier. He said: “Of course it’s nice to play well personally, but this is a team event and I am as disappointed at losing as any of the other European players.
“We are very proud of our record in team competitions, and we need to turn things back around in our favour very quickly – which won’t be easy in this competition. Now that the Asian golfers have had a taste of victory, their self belief will soar.
“But I would love to be part of the European team that tries to win the Royal Trophy back next year, because apart from the result, I loved every minute of my time here.
“I was blown away by the immaculate condition of the course, how good the practice facilities are, and just how well everything is organised. The attention to detail is very thorough, and you know as soon as you arrive here that this is a highly prestigious competition.
“I spoke to Paul McGinley, who played in the previous two matches as well as this one, about what to expect, and he told me it was a big event – I just didn’t realise how big ! We had huge and very appreciative galleries, global television coverage, and two teams who were highly committed, but at the same time mindful of the spirit in which competitions of this kind should be played.
“It all adds up to a fantastic package, and I will tell any other European players who ask me about it that they should try hard to make the European team for the next edition of the Royal Trophy.
“This competition could have a massive future. It can be as big as it wants to be – and I sense a real determination to make it very big indeed.”
Team-mate Niclas Fasth said this defeat would create far more interest in the competition back in Europe, and predicted they would send a much stronger team in 2010.
Fasth, another player with Ryder Cup experience, was also a member of the European team that steamrollered Asia 12 1/2 – 3 1/2 in 2007. But this time he had to endure the embarrassment of losing all three matches, culminating in a record 7&6 defeat to Toru Taniguchi, who rubbed salt in the wounds by holing the putt that clinched the home team’s victory.
Fasth commented: “I hate to say it, but this result could be the best thing that could have happened to the Royal Trophy – although, believe me, we fought as hard as we possibly could to prevent it happening.
“When we got home after our big win two years ago, the attitude on the European Tour seemed to be: ‘Well, what else would you expect?’
“We had just won the Ryder Cup for the third time in a row, and the world rankings suggested we should always have the edge over the Asian players.
“But this defeat will make people sit up and take notice, just as the Americans only started to really embrace the Ryder Cup when they started losing to Europe.
“The Asian team played far better than they did in 2007. I will look back on 2007 with much fonder memories than 2009 – that is for sure. But people in the European Tour must realise we have to send the strongest possible team for the next edition.
“I would love to get a chance to put the record straight, but I know I would need to be in much better form than I was this time, because the Asian players all came here on the back of fantastic seasons in 2008.
“We certainly did not under-estimate them, but we must also recognise it is going to get more and more difficult to beat them.
“I believe the matches in future will be wonderful, hard-fought affairs that will help this competition to continue growing in stature.”
The Asian Team prevailed over Europe in the third edition of the Royal Trophy by a score of 10-6, securing a history first ever win for the continent. The Championship was hailed as a great success for Asian golf featuring tremendous galleries, played in the immaculate 7,470-yard Amata Spring Country Club layout and delivering the highest caliber of competitive team match-play golf.
To view our Royal Trophy Photo Gallery, please click here
All results: Asia 10 Europe 6
Sunday Singles (Asia names first)
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) vs Soren Hansen (Den) All Square
Liang Wen-chong (PRC) lost to Paul Lawrie (Sco) 3&2
Charlie Wi (Kor) lost to Nick Dougherty (Eng) 1-up, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) beat Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 5&4
Hideto Tanihara (Tha) lost to Oliver Wilson (Eng) 3&2
SK Ho (Kor) lost to Johan Edfors (Swe) 5&4
Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) beat Niclas Fasth (Swe) 7&6
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) beat Paul McGinley (Ire) 5&4.
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) and Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) vs Soren Hansen (Den) and Paul Lawrie (Sco) All Square
Charlie Wi (Kor) and Liang Wen-chong (PRC) beat Nick Dougherty (Eng) and Oliver Wilson (Eng) 3 & 2
Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) and S.K. Ho (Kor) beat Niclas Fasth (Swe) and Johan Edfors (Swe) 2 & 1
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) and Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) beat Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) and Paul McGinley (Ire) 4 & 2
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) and Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) lost to Paul Lawrie (Sco) and Soren Hansen (Den) 2 & 1
Charlie Wi (Kor) and Liang Wen-chong (PRC) beat Paul McGinley (Ire) and Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 2-up
Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) and S.K. Ho (Kor) beat Nick Dougherty (Eng) and Oliver Wilson (Eng) 1-up
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) and Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) beat Niclas Fasth (Swe) and Johan Edfors (Swe) 5 & 4
Asian Triumph Puts Captain Ozaki in Dreamland
Amata Springs, Bangkok (Thailand) – 9 Jan 2009 – Asia staged a remarkable comeback on the first day of the Royal Trophy to win the opening Foursomes 3-1, taking a massive stride towards an historic first victory over Europe.
Things looked gloomy for Joe Ozaki and his players early on, as they trailed in all four matches after the first hour of play.
But they showed tremendous fighting qualities, and ninety minutes later they had turned it round to lead in two matches, and they were all square in the other two.
There were plenty more twists and turns to come before a classic day of match play ended with Asia holding a precious two point lead going into Saturday’s Fourball.
Captain Ozaki had been talking up his team’s chances all week, but he admitted even he did not dare to imagine they would win the opening session in such emphatic style.
He commented: “Compared to my experience at the last Royal Trophy, when the Asian team did not win a single match on the first two days, it felt like I must be dreaming to be 3-1 ahead.
“Now I believe my team has the confidence from today’s performance to go on and play just as well over the next two days.
“I was a little bit depressed at first when we were down in all four matches. But I was confident they would do better on the back nine because my players are all very good. So I was not too downhearted.”
Ozaki’s spirits rose as Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng produced a stunning birdie blitz on the front nine to blow away the Swedish duo of Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors.
Thongchai and Prayad delighted the home supporters with five birdies in the space of seven holes, cancelling out the 2&1 victory achieved by Paul Lawrie and Soren Hansen after a see-saw duel with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and Toru Taniguchi.
The 17 year old Ishikawa showed some of the star quality that has seen him hailed as the new Tiger Woods by holing a couple of outrageous thirty footers to keep his team alive.
But Lawrie and Hansen called on all their Ryder Cup experience to keep the pressure on, and prevent an improbable Asian clean sweep.
Former Open champion Lawrie said: “They holed a few big, big putts just to stay with us, but you expect that in these team matches. Soren and I have both played Ryder Cup and you have to expect the unexpected.
“You have to expect the other guys to hole every putt because it happens so often in these games.
“I was great to be able to get back in front on 15 after Soren’s great pitch. Then he did the same again on 16 and I managed to roll the putt in again, and we were never going to give it back after that.”
Prayad matched Ishikawa by holing two monster putts, but his ‘bombs’ had a much more profound effect on the outcome of his match.
He explained: “Part of the game plan was for me and Thongchai to get the crowds involved, and we did that when I holed long putts on the third and the fifth holes. Getting them excited will help the whole Asian team.
“We felt this was a match we could win because we know we play well together. We thought maybe our opponents would not have quite the same understanding we have built up from playing together many times.
“I was happy with the way I played today, especially as I have been a bit ill. I have had a touch of flu, and an in growing fingernail, but it all seems much better now!”
It kept on getting better for the Asian team, as Charlie Wi and Liang Wen-Chong came back from three down against Paul McGinley and Pablo Larrazabal to win on the final green.
That could also prove a crucial psychological blow, as it was McGinley’s first defeat in his third Royal Trophy appearance. Casting a few seeds of doubt in the mind of a man who has also played on three winning Ryder Cup teams must help the Asian cause.
Hideto Tanihara and S.K.Ho completed a memorable day for the home team as they won the last three holes to defeat the highly-rated English duo of Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty.
European captain Jose Maria Olzabal admitted: “The whole European team was very disappointed today. We did not play to our usual standards.
“The players need to push the pedal down when we are in front. I said earlier in the week we must respect the Asian team because they are in good form, and tomorrow we are going to have to play our guts out to try to cut the deficit.”
Ryo Ordered to launch Asian assault
Amata Springs, Bangok (Thailand) – 8 Jan 2009 – Joe Ozaki has thrust Japanese golf sensation Ryo Ishikawa further into the spotlight by nominating him as the player who can inspire a first Asian success in the Royal Trophy.
The Asian team captain will send Ishikawa out with fellow Japanese star Toru Taniguchi in the first match of the competition, and he admitted he wants the 17 year old to get the galleries and his team- mates fired up.
Ishikawa and Taniguchi will be up against a far more experienced pairing in the opening Foursomes match at Bangkok’s Amata Spring Country Club, after being drawn against former Open champion Paul Lawrie and Soren Hansen, who made his Ryder Cup debut four months ago.
Captain Ozaki admitted he had been tempted to send out the crowd-pleasing Thai duo of Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng first, but declared: “I wanted our youngest player to go out first and get some momentum that would inspire the team.
“The two Thai players are a good pairing to have as the anchor men in the final match, and I am very pleased with the way the draw has worked out.”
Ishikawa, whose presence has sparked a media circus with scores of photographers and camera crews following his every move, insisted he was up to the challenge.
He said: “I am happy to be in the first match, and I will try to play my best golf so that the rest of the team gets good news from our match.”
Captain Ozaki could not disguise a big grin as he added: “My first impression is that the Asian team has a big advantage in every one of the matches.”
Thongchai and Prayad will take on the big-hitting Swedish duo of Niclas Fasth and Johan Edfors, who were both outstanding when Europe powered to a Royal Trophy victory two years ago.
Another member of that team, Paul McGinley, will be partnered by Spanish rookie Pablo Larrazabal as he bids to preserve his unblemished record when representing Europe.
McGinley has played in three Ryder Cups – holing the winning putt in the first of them seven years ago – and two previous Royal Trophies, and won the lot. US PGA Tour player Korean Charlie Wi and 2007 Asian number one Liang Wen-chong stand in his way this time.
McGinley said: “We expect a much tougher match this time as the Asian golfers have been in terrific form. But we have four outstanding partnerships, and we have every reason to feel confident.”
Another golfer who has played in all three Royal Trophy shoot-outs, S. K. Ho of Korea, will partner Hideto Tanihara of Japan. Their morale will be boosted by the fact they each won twice on the Japan Golf Tour in 2008.
They will be up against the English duo of Oliver Wilson and Nick Dougherty, who know each other’s game inside out after playing together since their amateur days at the turn of the century.
Tee times. 11.15, Ishikawa & Taniguchi v Hansen and Lawrie; 11.29, Wi & Liang v McGinley & Larrazabal; 11.43, Tanihara & Ho v Dougherty & Wilson; 11.57, Thongchai & Prayad v Fasth and Edfors.
The Royal Trophy – Amata Spring Layout Set to Bite
05 Jan 2009 – World Golf Directory News
The 7,470-yard Amata Spring Country Club layout has been set significantly tougher for the third edition to the Royal Trophy. The greens will be faster, the fairways narrower and the course will be playing at its maximum length from the very back tees on every single hole. In addition, the eight European and Asian players representing their respective Continents will also have to navigate the exclusive Club’s new floating green set at the 145-yard par three hole number eight.
“We expect that the players will find a challenging golf course. Amata Spring’s team have devoted a monumental effort to have the golf course in the very best condition possible for these great players and the layout looks immaculate right now. It is a ‘dream golf course’ to play at the moment. Over the next days only the European and Asian Team members will be practicing at the layout in order to retain this very best condition;” said Royal Trophy spokesperson Lincoln Venancio.
“It is not only the golf course. Amata Spring is ready for this major event from every aspect. The VIP Champions Club will provide possibly the most luxurious environment for enjoying a professional golf event anywhere in Asia. The Club House is being set-up beautifully and the practice facilities for the players are truly world-class. From the driving range, the practice green and the short game practice area, the venue is set at a truly world-class standard.
Fans attending the Royal Trophy will have the opportunity to watch the players the tackle the brand-new floating green, one of only two in the world. Measuring a total of 1,026 square meters, the new green is three hundred square meters larger than the previous one which was retired over this past weekend. The players will now have to deal not only with the challenges of the constant cross winds and the fairly small landing area but also two bunkers, five palm trees and an area of rough which are all part of this extraordinary green target set in the middle of one of Amata Spring’s two massive lakes.
Another new challenge the Asians and Europeans will have to cope with is the ‘native vegetation areas’ which severely punishes shots off the fairway and give the course a ‘links’ look and feel.
“The stage is set for the Royal Trophy. We commend Amata Spring on doing such a good job at getting the facilities in such outstanding conditions. I am sure that the Captains, players and the spectators will truly enjoy watching the highly competitive action being played at such a fantastic venue;” added Venancio.
The Royal Trophy will be played on January 9-11 with four foursomes matches played on Friday, four four-ball matches on Saturday and the eight singles bringing the Event to conclusion on Sunday. The winning Continent will gain stewardship of the sixteen-kilogram solid-silver Trophy graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.
The Royal Trophy Premier and Major Sponsors include Heineken, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), PTT, Siam Commercial Bank, Toyota Motor Thailand and Sodick (Thailand). For further Tournament information, please call +662 651 9499 or visit the official website www.TheRoyalTrophy.com. The third edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on January 9-11, 2009 at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand and is promoted by Entertainment Group Limited and Amen Corner S.A.
All articles and photos by (c) 2009 Bernard Metzger – WorldGolfDirectory.com