JEEV FIT TO JOIN ASIA’S ROYAL TROPHY BID


Jeev Milkha Singh has won his fight to be fit for the Royal Trophy, and will partner Thongchai Jaidee in Friday’s opening day Foursomes against the Swedish duo of Peter Hanson and Fredrik Andersson Hed.

The Indian star’s participation has been in doubt since he suffered a back injury halfway through a tournament in Japan six weeks ago. But after playing 18 holes in the Pro-Am and consulting his personal physiotherapist – who accompanied Singh from India – he informed Asian Captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki that he is ready to tackle three days of intense match play.

Local hero Prayad Marksaeng had been put on standby in case Singh was ruled out, and he will now switch to play a very valuable back-up role, helping Captain Ozaki organise Asia’s bid to reclaim the Royal Trophy from Colin Montgomerie’s European Team.

Prayad has played in the last two editions of the Royal Trophy – forming a devastating partnership with Thai countryman Thongchai Jaidee when Asia registered their only victory so far in 2009. He was born and still lives in Hua Hin, so he will also be able to offer Captain Ozaki and his teammates formidable course knowledge of the Black Mountain Golf Club where the Clash of the Continents takes place.

Captain Ozaki commented: “Prayad will not be playing, but he will remain an important member of my Team. His input will be invaluable as we seek to win back the Royal Trophy, and I want to thank him for his efforts so far.

“I was a little concerned about Jeev’s back problem, but he spoke very confidently after the Pro-Am. He is in very good condition to play.”

Prayad stressed that he remains fully committed to helping secure an Asian victory.

He said: “It is disappointing that I will not get the opportunity to win some points to help the Asian cause, but I would never wish ill fortune on a fellow golfer such as Jeev. I have been practicing alongside the Asian Team members in case I needed to step in, and have been made to feel very much a part of the Team.

“I want that to continue, and I will do my best to offer any advice or insights that may help Captain Ozaki and the players achieve the victory we all desire so much.

“I would like nothing more than to see an Asian victory in my birthplace, Hua Hin; and if we achieve that I look forward to celebrating alongside my Asian colleagues.”

Singh admitted he was a relieved man, after making the long trip to Thailand earlier than any of his teammates to give himself the best possible chance of being fit.

He said: “My concern was always that I needed to feel fit enough to do myself justice, and that there was no chance I would let my team-mates down. If I did not feel capable of playing three hard matches, I would not have told Captain Ozaki I was ready.”

The Asian Captain quickly found himself wrestling with another big problem, as Monty took him by surprise after naming the other Swedish stars in his Team – Henrik Stenson and Johan Edfors – to lead his team off.

Ozaki admitted: “I did not expect Monty to put those two powerhouses together, and certainly not in the first match. It took me a little while to think which of my pairings would be best to counter that threat, but I am confident Liang Wen-Chong and Noh Seung-yul can give them a good game.”

Monty said he had arguably his strongest pairing out first because they proved devastating together when Europe were emphatic winners in 2009, and he wanted a fast start after losing the Foursomes session in 2010.

He said: “I think I have a lot of strength in that first group, and after nine Ryder Cups and my experience in last year’s Royal Trophy I know how important the opening match in any series is.

“Johan has been practising here in Thailand for six weeks and they are good friends on and off the course and it will be a good strong partnership to lead us off in our bid to retain the Royal Trophy.”

Montgomerie said he is also excited by the prospect of Ryo Ishikawa and Matteo Manassero battling it out in the third Foursomes match.

He added: “Like everyone else I am excited by the prospect of Ryo playing against our own tremendously talented young player in Matteo. Every point is equally important, but that is a mouth-watering match-up.

“Both Jeev and Prayad have made a great contribution to the Asian Team at the Royal Trophy over the years. They are both highly accomplished golfers and are well capable of representing the Continent with great proficiency;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“The fact that only one of them will be playing in the Asian Team demonstrates the strength and depth of Asian professional golf;” added Lincoln Venancio.

“We are looking forward to a very competitive and exciting series of matches;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The Fifth Edition of the Royal Trophy is co-organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipal Government and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Championship is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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