Europe in mood to retain Royal Trophy

The European team led by Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal is confident of continuing their domination over their Asian rivals when they clash in the Royal Trophy in Bangkok next month.

The annual Ryder Cup-style shootout between the two continents will feature a strong European squad, with Olazabal recently adding former British Open winner Paul Lawrie and Denmark’s Soren Hansen into the squad for the January 9-11 tussle in the Thai capital.

Olazabal is taking over the captaincy from compatriot Seve Ballesteros, who is recovering from surgery to remove a tumour in his brain. He said in a Reuters article:

“We will be competing to defend European golf history, and we do not take it lightly. We are bringing to Thailand a fantastic European team heavy on team match-play experience and sharp on the production of highly efficient and precise golf. Make no mistake about it – Europe is coming to Bangkok to win.”

Asia is likely to include Thai players Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng as well as Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa and South Korean star SK Ho.

Lawrie and Hansen will join England’s Oliver Wilson and Ireland’s Paul McGinley in the European squad with four more players to be named.

This is only the third Royal Trophy with the European Tour players winning both previous editions held at the Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok.

It is named the Royal Trophy because of the trophy donated by his majesty the King of Thailand. Apart from providing fans with great golfing entertaining, it has helped to enhance the popularity of the sport in Asia. As Ballesteros says the official website:

“The Royal Trophy is becoming the greatest force for the further development of golf in Asia, in the same manner that the Ryder Cup played such a role for the European Continent in the 1980s and 1990s.”

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