HSBC Champions winner David Howell has been unveiled as the first European team player for the inaugural Royal Trophy tournament against Asia in Thailand in January.

The English ace will head to the pioneering event with his confidence sky-high after holding off world No.1 Tiger Woods for a superb three-shot victory in Shanghai on Sunday.

European Team Captain Seve Ballesteros was delighted Howell had confirmed his participation in the Royal Trophy. “David is a great addition to our European Team,” he said. “He will be instrumental in our efforts to play great golf and to defeat the Asian Team on their home soil.

“David is coming off a week where he defeated the best players in the world to win the title in Shanghai. He will be a great weapon for us in our battle against the Asians.”

The Royal Trophy – to be held on January 5-8 at Bangkok’s world-class Amata Spring Country Club – has been sanctioned by the Asian, Japan and European Tours.

Each team will comprise eight players, led by a non-playing captain, competing in a series of 16 matches involving foursomes, four-ball and singles.

Six players on each team will be chosen according to each Tour’s Order of Merit table and the world rankings, with the two remaining players on each side being captain’s picks.

Five-time Major winner Ballesteros, whose charisma and competitiveness were critical in turning the Ryder Cup into a most compelling viewing in world golf, will spearhead the European challenge as non-playing captain. Masahiro “Massy” Kuramoto, one of Asia’s most decorated golfers with 30 Japan Tour titles to his name, will captain the Asian Team. Ballesteros said Howell’s Shanghai success illustrated just how strong Europe’s Royal Trophy team would be.

“I congratulate David on such a great week in Shanghai,” he said. “David has been showing his great game and talent for long time and I’m very happy to have such an outstanding player in our European Team. We will have many truly great players in our Team and they will be playing their very best to take the Trophy back to Europe.”

Howell has already shown his liking for team golf – he was one of the heroes of Europe’s record-breaking Ryder Cup victory over the United States at Oakland Hills Country Club, Michigan, in 2004. Together with fellow rookie Paul Casey, he produced a pivotal victory in the Saturday morning fourball session over Chad Campbell and Jim Furyk.

One down with two to play, and with the American Team as a whole sensing a revival, Howell produced a stunning six-iron tee shot from 203 yards to five feet and holed the birdie putt to win the hole, before partner Casey won the last to give Bernhard Langer’s Team a crucial point. Howell’s effort was subsequently voted the European Tour’s Shot of the Year.

Lincoln Venancio, Managing Director of the Royal Troph, hailed Howell’s inclusion.

“David has just scored the biggest victory of his career and has demonstrated his talent and determination at the highest level,” said Venancio. “He will be a tremendous asset to the European Team.

“We expect both the European and Asian Teams to be extremely competitive and it all points to a thrilling competition when the Royal Trophy is held for the first time.”

Howell launched his 2006 European Tour season in perfect style at the HSBC Champions, played at Shanghai’s Sheshan International Golf Club.

He went into the final round holding a one-shot lead over 10-time Major winner Woods, his playing partner.

But Howell never gave his illustrious partner a chance, carding a four-under-par 68 for a formidable winning total of 20-under 268, good enough to secure his third European Tour title. Woods recorded a 70 to finish three shots back.

The Royal Trophy will be held on January 5-8, 2006 at Thailand’s new world-class private club, Amata Spring Country Club. Sponsors of the tournament include Heineken, BMW Thailand, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Siam Commercial Bank and i-mobile. For ticket information, please call +662 640 8197 or visit

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