Pattaya Daily News

16 November 2010 :: 16:11:36 pm 46084

Powerful Young Guns Named For The Royal Trophy Continental Clash

Asian golf's most potent young guns are being assembled to take on Europe in the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy, with Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki announcing five exciting additions to his team.
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The quintet includes the young Korean duo who is leading the pack on the Japan and Asian Golf  Tours – Kim Kyung-tae and Noh Seung-yul plus two more explosive newcomers in Japanese stars Yuta Ikeda and Shunsuke Sonoda.

And with teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa already confirmed as the Asian spearhead, Captain Ozaki has wisely given a nod to experience by also selecting Chinese ace Liang Wen-chong, a former Asian Tour Order of Merit champion and twice a winner on the OneAsia Tour this year. Liang, who has played in the last two Royal Trophy encounters, is hardly in the veteran stage himself at 32. But he is entitled to feel like an old-stager next to the five men selected alongside him so far – every one of them is under 25!

That fact does not worry Japanese golfing great Ozaki who will be captaining Asia for the fourth time in succession. In fact it has had the opposite effect boosting the 35-time tournament title winner’s confidence to new heights. He declared: “The age of the players was not the critical factor in my selection. I was just interested in nominating proven winners, who play the brand of fearless, aggressive golf the Royal Trophy’s 18-hole Match-play format demands.

“And I think I am very fortunate that there are so many players of that type to choose from in Asia . The six players I have named so far have all won in 2010, accumulating 12 titles between them, and they are all capable of making a lot of birdies. That is essential in Match-play.

“It is certainly the case these days that young players are capable of winning far earlier in their careers than previous generations were. The players I have selected fill me with confidence and I am optimistic that we can go one better than last time, when we so nearly made it two wins in a row for the Asian continent.

“We lost only when the European player ranked eighth in the world at the time, Henrik Stenson, holed an extremely testing seven-foot putt for par on the 18th green, in the final match on the course. Many people have said that such a tense finale was great for the future of the competition, and provided wonderful drama for the huge worldwide television audience. I’m sure they are right. But when you are on the losing side, those concerns offer very little consolation.

“When the Royal Trophy was in its infancy, and Europe was winning the first two Matches fairly convincingly, a result such as the one where we pushed an extremely powerful team to the very limit might have been seen as a positive; but not any more. Our victory in 2009 whetted out appetite, and this time we are hungry for revenge. We are concerned only with winning.

“I will again be up against a Ryder Cup legend in Colin Montgomerie, who will be the European player-captain as he was in 2009, and I am sure he will bring another powerful line-up. After leading Europe to such a thrilling victory over the USA in October – and lifting the Royal Trophy on his only previous appearance – he will not want to be brought down to earth so quickly.

“But he will know that this is a truly competitive Event, and once he sees the names on the 2011 Asian team sheet I believe it will give him plenty of food for thought.”

Ozaki’s daring selections fire the imagination to such an extent that it is difficult to know where to start.

By adding Kim Kyung-tae, Yuta Ikeda, and Shunsuke Sonoda to the previously selected Ishikawa, Captain Ozaki has called on four of the top six players on the current Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit.

Kim, 24, is leading the money list ahead of 2009 champion Ishikawa, thanks to three victories and a host of other top quality performances.

Ikeda, also 24, is in fourth place, and has also won three tournament titles this year. He has made a huge impact in just two years on the Japan Golf Tour, after claiming four wins in 2009. He said: “I am ready to fight very hard to revenge the agonizing defeat our Asian continent suffered last time. I have played a lot of team golf during my amateur career and I am sure we will play our hearts out and earn the privilege of tossing Captain Ozaki up in the air at the conclusion of the matches.”

Sonoda, 21 and a former school mate of Ishikawa, showed the hype that accompanied his decision to join the professional ranks after a glittering amateur career was fully justified with a breakthrough win at the Gateway to the Open Mizuno Open Yomiuri Classic. He followed up by finishing second in his next event, the Toshin Golf Tournament, and has been runner-up twice more since then to climb to sixth on the Order of Merit.

“I am really honored to have been selected to represent Asia . Even now I already feel the nerves that come with such a tremendous responsibility. I will gather together all of the experience and strength I have gained over the years as a golfer to make the best contribution possible to our Asian team. I will compete with the greatest determination and fight for every point to prove to Captain Ozaki that he was right in nominating Shunsuke Sonoda to this great team.

China ‘s top golfer Liang has also suffered a number of near-misses in Japan , in addition to his victories on the OneAsia circuit. Four outings on the Japan Golf Tour have produced three top-five finishes, and after seeing so much of the players who will form the backbone of Captain Ozaki’s team, Japan Golf Tour Chairman Tadashi Koizumi admits he cannot wait for the fifth Royal Trophy contest to begin.

He commented: “Captain Ozaki has clearly gone for players who are in great form, and who will not back off in the heat of battle. That seems a very shrewd and positive policy, and it is certain to make the 2011 Royal Trophy an even more enthralling spectacle.

“These players have been helping to generate a lot of excitement on the Japan Golf Tour, and I cannot see it being any different when they band together under the Asian flag at Black Mountain Golf Club in January.”

Noh, 19, may not have been going head-to-head with his Asian team mates in Japan, but he has certainly been making a huge impression on the Asian Tour. He has built up a huge lead in the Order of Merit race with his victory in the Malaysian Open, backed up by fourth place in two high profile tournaments – the Ballantine’s Championship, and the European Masters – and a runner-up finish in the Iskandar Johor Open.

Noh have rightly been acclaimed as one of the most exciting young talents in Asian golf. But he will certainly not be alone in that respect when the fifth edition of the Royal Trophy is played out at Thailand ‘s magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club in the coastal city of Hua Hin from January 7-9.

The Royal Trophy Premier and Major Sponsors include Heineken, Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Black Mountain Golf Club. For further Tournament information, please call Entertainment and Sports Co. Ltd. in Thailand at +662 651 9499. The fifth edition of the Royal Trophy will be held on 7-9 January 2011 at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin , Thailand.

For further information, please contact:

Entertainment and Sports Co. Ltd. (an Organizer of the Royal Trophy) Thailand
Tel : +662 651 9499
Fax : +662 651 9498

Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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