The world of golf landed in Thailand yesterday with the arrival of some of the greatest players from Europe and Asia for this weekend’s Royal Trophy.

In the early hours of the day England’s Kenneth Ferrie and India’s Arjun Atwal arrived at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, the Tournament Official Hotel. “We have a very solid team. We have a great combination of top players of the younger generation of European golf like myself, Graeme (McDowell) and Henrik (Stenson). Nick (Faldo) and Ian (Woosnam) are legends of the game and will make a huge contribute with their tremendous experience. David (Howell), Thomas (Bjorn) and Paul (McGinley) are truly top world-class players,” said the young and trendy Englishman.

“Golf is an individual sport and it is very special to play in a team event. It is a great honor to play for Europe . I am also very excited to play under our Captain Seve. He is a great champion and a very special person and he has made an immense contribution to European golf. All of the players around my age grew up looking up to Seve as their hero. To play in his team is something I hold in the greatest regard. I do not know who will win the Royal Trophy. It will be decided on the golf course. I think our European Team is stronger but Asia has the home course advantage,” added the 2005 European Tour tournament winner.

Arjun Atwal is one of the players in the Asian Team who has spent most of 2005 playing outside of Asia as a full time US PGA player. He achieved great success in the world’s toughest Tour finishing second in the BellSouth Open and ending the year with the overall best putting average. “We have a great Asian Team. I am very familiar with most of our players including Zhang (Lian Wei), Jyoti (Randhawa), Thongchai (Jaidee) and Thaworn (Wiratchant),” said the multiple title winner on both European and Asian Tours.

“Can we beat the European Team? Yes, we have great players. This is ‘match play’ and I am confident we can win,” added the handsome Calcutta-native confidently.

Later in the afternoon the Tournament Hotel lobby was invaded by great players. “I am looking forward to playing for Asia. This is truly an honor and we will fight very hard to win,” said Korean S.K. Ho.

“I am proud to fly the Chinese flag in the Asian Team for the Royal Trophy. I am determined to pull together with my Asian teammates to win the inaugural Royal Trophy. We are playing for ourselves, we are playing for our countries but most importantly, we are playing for the people of Asia. This is a great honor;” said China’s golf ambassador Zhang Lian Wei who made history in 2004 becoming the first Chinese player to compete at the Masters.

In the mid-afternoon the legendary Seve Ballesteros arrived in Bangkok showcasing a big smile, his famous Mediterranean ‘good-looks’ and his trademark charisma. “I am very pleased to arrive in Thailand for the Royal Trophy. Thailand is a beautiful country with amazingly friendly people. We feel so welcome already”, commented the five-time Major winner. “The European Team is very strong and I am confident we will do well. But I also know that the home ground advantage is like ‘an extra player’ and that will help the Asian Team. We will compete very seriously because we are determined to win the Royal Trophy and to take it back to Europe”, added the man voted European golfer of the century as a warning shot to the Asian Team.

Within one hour of Ballesteros’ arrival, Asian Captain Massy Kuramoto landed in the City of Angels . Displaying a friendly yet clearly determined look, the Japanese golf legend said; “We are playing for all of Asia. We are playing for our three billion fellow Asians and we take this responsibility very seriously. We will do everything possible to win the Trophy.”

“We are playing in Asia and this gives us an advantage. In team golf the fans play a significant role. I call on the Asian fans to come out to Amata Spring on Saturday and Sunday and cheer on our Asian players. This is a historic moment for our sport and for our continent. Come out and help us make history for Asia”, added the thirty-time Japan Tour title winner.

The Royal Trophy will be played Saturday and Sunday January 7-8 at Amata Spring Country Club just outside of Bangkok . It features the European Team playing the Asian Team in a team match play format. Saturday morning foursomes will be played followed by four-ball in the afternoon. Sunday will feature eight singles matches starting from 11:10am. Each team includes eight players and a non-playing captain. The Principal Award for the winning team is stewardship of the Royal Trophy, a beautiful perpetual solid-silver Trophy weighting sixteen kilograms and graciously donated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in the very special year when the Thai people commemorate the Sixtieth Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne.

The Tournament features what is likely to be the largest operational set-up for any single sporting event ever held in Thailand. A massive purpose-built entertainment village will provide refreshments, garments, souvenirs and a variety of games for the spectators, all housed in over 20 tents. It promises to be very fierce competition on the golf course and a great day for the fans.

“The inaugural edition of the Royal Trophy promises to be truly an unforgettable event. This is clearly history in the making”; said Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director. “This is a Championship with the foundation to become a truly major global sporting competition;” added Lincoln Venancio.

The Royal Trophy - Europe vs Asia Golf Championship
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