Asians claim maiden Royal Trophy victory

The Asian team recorded their first ever victory in the Royal Trophy when they defeated Europe 10-6 to win the third edition of the annual intercontinental team tournament.

Japanese player Toru Taniguchi rolled in the winning putt as the Asians ended the European Tour’s players two-year domination of the event in Bangkok, Thailand.

For Asian captain Joe Ozaki, the victory was particularly sweet because he was in charge when the Europeans hammered his team by nine points two years ago. He said in an AFP article:

“I am very happy right now. I will never forget this week – my dream has come true. I really wanted to win this time after the loss in 2007 and all my team felt that way as well. They sensed that I wanted them to play aggressively.”

Taniguchi manifested his captain’s instructions in emphatic style with a convincing seven and six triumph over Sweden’s Niclas Fasth. That was after Thai player Prayad Marksaeng saw off Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal five and four.

Asia, with players mostly from the Asian Tour and Japan Tour, were also indebted to another Thai, former paratrooper Thongchai Jaidee, who beat Paul McGinley five and four for a 100 per cent record over the three days.

The best European player on show was Scot Paul Lawrie, who garnered two and a half points, closing with a three and two victory over China’s Liang Wen-chong.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal wanted victory for his friend and fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros, one of the creators of this event who is recovering from brain surgery.

However, after Europe’s easy victory two years ago, the Asian players showed how much they have improved, with Olazabal saying the next captain should expect even better opposition. He said:

“It hurts that we lost. Asia have raised the bar without a doubt and we will have to come here next time angrier and more determined to beat these guys. Seve is recovering from his health issues and Europe may have a different captain next year and I can tell Asia he will be tougher to beat than I was.”

On the PGA Tour, Australia’s former US Open champion got off to a winning start in 2009 when he captured the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Ogilvy led from start to finish to complete a six-stroke victory with a final round of five-under-par 68 in Kapalua, Hawaii.

He finished with a total of 24-under 268 and earned more than $1 million in prize money, also moving up the world rankings to number six.

Tied for second place were Americans Anthony Kim and Davis Love III, both closing with 67s to finish on 274.

Sean O’Hair was fourth on 275 after his 65 while Justin Leonard scored a fourth-round 70 for his 276.

South African Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, DJ Trahan and Kenny Perry were all on 277, nine strokes behind the winner.

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