Friday, 19 March 2010

Asia has named a strong team to face Europe in the inaugural Royal Trophy at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand, from January 7-8, 2006.


Thai stalwarts Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee, and India's Jyoti Randhawa, the top three finishers on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, earned their places in the Ryder Cup-style contest alongside Japan's Yasuharo Imano and Keiichiro Fukabori and Korea's Hur Suk-ho, who finished inside the top four of the Japan Golf Tour money ranking in its recent 2005 season.


India's Arjun Atwal, who enjoyed a memorable season on the US PGA Tour this year, and Chinese ace Zhang Lian-wei complete the strong eight-man line-up as Asian team captain Massy Kuramoto's picks. The eight Asian players have a combined 52 career victories on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.


"I am delighted to finalise our team which I believe is a very strong line-up," said Kuramoto, who is a legend of the game in Japan with 30 career victories.


"The eight players have produced some terrific golf over the past 12 months which is clearly reflected by their respective finishes on the Japan and Asian Tours Orders of Merit. All the players are proven champions and I am confident we will put on a good show and challenge Europe for The Royal Trophy."


Spanish great Seve Ballesteros, a five-time Major Champion, will captain the European team which will be announced in due course.


Asia and Europe will compete in a series of 16 matches involving foursomes, fourball and singles on January 7 and 8. The Royal Trophy offers a total prize fund of US$1.5 million, with the winning team sharing $1 million and the runners-up sharing $500,000.


Imano, Fukabori and Hur, who finished second, third and fourth respectively on the Japan money list, have enjoyed impressive seasons, winning two titles each. Fukabori has eight career wins to his name and could well be one of Kuramoto's trump cards.


Much will also be anticipated from home town heroes Thaworn and Thongchai in The Royal Trophy. The 38 year old Thaworn enjoyed a spectacular 2005 season on the Asian Tour with a record four titles, which made him the player with the most number of wins in the region at eight while Thongchai successfully retained his Malaysian Open title this year.


Zhang, the first mainland Chinese player to feature in the Masters Tournament, has enjoyed many victories in match play competitions which saw him earn Kuramoto's nod for one of his captain's picks.


Atwal, Asian number one in 2003, is also coming off a tremendous year on the US PGA Tour where he finished second twice and earned close to US$1 million in total prize money.


"Zhang is a wonderful match play competitor. His has a strong liking for match play competitions and he has also enjoyed a good year in Asia," said Kuramoto.


"Atwal is another class act and his success in the United States is no surprise. The two wildcards in our team will no doubt lend more weight in our challenge to lift the first Royal Trophy."


The first day of competition will see four fourball matches in the morning session, followed by another four matches of foursomes in the afternoon. The second day will see eight matches of singles.


The Royal Trophy is sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation.



Asian Team: Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Yasuharo Imano (Jpn), Keiichiro Fukabori (Jpn), Hur Suk-ho (Kor), Arjun Atwal (Ind – captain's pick), Zhang Lian-wei (Chn – captain's pick)

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