Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam will team up for the first time since The 1991 Ryder Cup when they face the Thai pair of Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant in the anchor match of the morning foursomes session of the inaugural Royal Trophy at Amata Spring Country Club, Bangkok, Thailand.
Faldo and Woosnam first played together in The 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village, combining to win 3 ½ points out of four as Europe claimed their first Ryder Cup victory on US soil. Two years later the partnership again proved a strong one as they collected 2 ½ points together at The De Vere Belfry but after two defeats on the first day at Kiawah Island, one of the strongest partnerships in Ryder Cup history was broken up.
The Royal Trophy brings these two legends of the game back into harness after European captain Seve Ballesteros opted for experience in the fourth of his pairings.
“I had a conversation with both Nick and Ian and they are very happy to play together,” said Ballesteros. “I think in foursomes they are the best possible combination there can be because they are both very consistent and have a lot of experience but more than that it is important they feel comfortable with each other. In all the pairings it is important they feel comfortable.
“It is important the players enjoy it when they compete, when they enjoy playing they produce their best form.”
Woosnam is relishing the chance to once again join forces with Faldo against one of the Asian team’s strongest pairings.
“We played together in 1987 and 1989 and had a great run together but didn’t play well at Kiawah and it was time to change,” he said. “Nick is very steady and is always going to be consistent whereas I was a very aggressive player and that was always good in fourballs. And we just played so well in foursomes as well. It will be a bit different now as we are a bit older and these guys hit it so far off the tee. But we won’t lose our competitive edge and it should be fun out there.”
The English pair of David Howell and Kenneth Ferrie will launch the historical match between Europe and Asia as they head off first against SK Ho of Korea and Japan’s Keiichiro Fukabori in the opening tie.
Ballesteros also kept the Irish players together with Paul McGinley partnering Graeme McDowell against the Indian par of Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa.
"It is great to play with one of the experienced players and we have a good strong side," said McDowell. "It is going to be a tough tussle but if we play our normal game we should be okay. They have the advantage of home territory, the weather and course should suit them very well. But this is always a format I feel I do well in. I thrive on the team atmosphere, it gets me going and I always enjoy matchplay and feel i have a goo record in it. I am looking forward to the weekend."
The Scandinavian partnership of Thomas Björn and Henrik Stenson which proved so devastating in winning three our of three in last year’s Seve Trophy, remains intact and they will face Japan’s Yasuharu Imano and Zhang Lian-Wei.
But it is the final group pitting Thailand’s top two golfers against the next two European Ryder Cup captains that is sure to attract top billing.